You may have heard it said, “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” Research supports this popular adage showing that within seven seconds a person will make several judgments about who you are and if they can trust you. In fact, according to Amy Cuddy, your trustworthiness has little to do with your skills or competence and more to do with the initial impression when you first meet. This makes first impressions critical when networking and interviewing. So how does one make a good first impression? Let’s look to other popular sayings for direction.
“While a book should not be judged by its cover, many people are unlikely to read it if it is not inviting.”
Research has shown that nonverbal cues have a greater impact than your verbal message when a first impression is created. Your body movements, facial expressions, and overall appearance say more about you than your words do. Because of this, it is important to have self-awareness and understand how others may perceive you when you walk into a room. Use your non-verbals to present yourself in an approachable way.
“Dress how you want to be addressed.”
Knowing that nonverbal cues are critical in first impressions, consider your overall appearance as you prepare to meet someone for the first time. This includes your clothing, shoes, accessories, and hairstyle. Being mindful of looking your best shows the other person that he or she is important. It also conveys the message that you are professional and respectful. For more information on appropriate dress, read Cracking The Dress Code or The Cost Of Self-Expression.
“Be the type of person you want to meet.”
Now that your nonverbal cues are on point, find common ground early in your first conversation to create a bond with your new acquaintance. This will require your full attention to the conversation so put your phone away and focus on the person you are talking to, not the rest of the room. No one wants to talk to someone who is unrelatable or distracted.
“First impression is the deepest.”
Knowing that you can never make another first impression, use every opportunity – verbal and nonverbal – to show that you are interested in the new person you are meeting. This can be done through smiling, nodding and eye contact as you are listening to them. Everyone wants to be acknowledged and respected. Show that you are interested in what they are saying. When it is your time to speak, confirm that you were listening by responding directly to their message and show interest by asking to learn more.
Both nonverbal and verbal messaging are important when making a great first impression during networking and job interviewing. Reach out to your AthLife Advisor to discuss how you can make a great first impression at your next event.