That’s about all you’ve got to make a great first impression.
This is a painfully short amount of time, especially when you consider what’s at stake.
First impressions communicate your personality, your reputation and even your intentions, goals and ambitions, and once you make that first impression, it’s incredibly hard to shake off.
Turn up at an interview with a bit of ketchup on your shirt and you’ll be seen as sloppy or worse - lazy.
Fail to make eye contact at an important business event and you’ll be labelled as awkward or worse - untrustworthy.
There’s no doubt about it…
First impressions count. A lot.
Creating an outstanding first impression goes way beyond a big smile and a firm handshake.
Here are 4 “no-fail” techniques you can implement to make an extraordinary first impression.
Technique #1: It’s Not About You
When you first meet someone, it’s only natural to focus on yourself.
Do I look presentable? Am I smiling enough? Was my handshake too limp or too firm?
This is a formula for failure.
An effective method to make a great first impression is do the absolute opposite…
Turn your attention away from yourself and shine it on the other person.
Listen closely. Ask questions and share thoughtful ideas and comments around what they’re saying.
Do this and you successfully demonstrate attentiveness, kindness, and consideration. These are incredibly powerful traits that will help you create and solidify a great first impression.
Technique #2: It’s All in The Name
Most people remember faces, not names.
But when you remember both, you instantly differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd.
There are many techniques you can use to remember a name but one of my favorites is powerful in its simplicity.
When you meet someone for the first time, ask a question or make a remark about their name.
Here’s how that works…
If the person you’re talking to has an unusual name, you could say, “That’s a fascinating name. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with that name. Does it mean something specific?”
Or if you’re introduced to someone with a common name, you might say, “Hey, my best buddy’s name is Jim too. This is a good sign…I think we’re going to get along well!”
The secret is to find a specific story or connection that will help lock the name into your memory. It works every time.
Just remember to be authentic. Never make up a story just to remember a name.
Technique #3: Let Them In
When someone you meet for the first time asks you what you do, don’t just say, “I’m an engineer or an entrepreneur or a writer” and stop there.
Share a little bit about your journey.
Tell them the story of how you started out in marketing but followed your heart and became a writer instead.
Or tell them how you almost quit your first job as a sales professional but a mentor inspired you to stay on and succeed.
Stories excite and engage. Stories evoke emotion.
It’s a wonderful, memorable way to let someone into your world.
There’s only one caveat…
Save desperate or depressing stories for another day.
First impressions are about presenting your best self.
Focus on funny, heartwarming or inspiring stories and share these with a strong dose of humility.
You’ll be remembered for all the right reasons when you do.
Technique #4: Dive Deeper
The people who make the best first impressions are the ones who show how much they care.
And you can do this only if you’re ready to push beyond small talk and ask questions that are outside the norm.
If you’re at a business event, ask what your new acquaintance hopes to take away from the experience and then share your reasons for attending.
You could also ask them what inspired them to attend the event.
If you’re feeling brave, wait for an appropriate opening in the conversation and take it a step further.
Consider questions like, “Which countries would you like to visit in the next few years?” or “What’s the craziest thing on your bucket list?”
Questions like these show that you want to know more.
They show that you’re truly interested in getting to know someone on a deeper, more meaningful level.
It’s a beautiful, powerful way to create an authentic connection with someone new.
From first dates to the first day on the job, first impressions are critically important.
These techniques take some effort and focus, but when you practice all of them you’ll easily create an awesome first impression…
One that presents you in the best possible light…
One that projects integrity, honesty, humility and personal power…
One that will capture the hearts and minds of everyone you meet.
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