First Impressions

LISTEN & FOLLOW ALONG


Meeting someone new is one of the most nerve-racking experiences. Even though you do it multiple times throughout your life, you can still get anxious. Somewhere between being a kid and becoming an adult you learned about the importance of a first impression. What I’ve learned is the first one doesn’t always have to be your best one. In fact, your first is usually not the lasting impression you leave. That being said, here are a few ways you can increase your chances of making a positive first impression, while managing your anxiety and putting yourself in a good position for the next time you meet with the same person.
Let’s begin with a saying that I was introduced to a few years ago:
“Look good, smell good, feel good.”
It is a reminder to take care of yourself first. If you have advanced warning about this meeting, take a shower, brush your teeth, pick out clothes that give you confidence, and use your favourite fragrance (just a hint of it is good enough). If you show self-care other people can tell immediately. It demonstrates that the meeting is important to you and that you have put consideration into it which others appreciate.
Cleanup
Another way to help yourself is by doing some research, get a few details about this person, just a quick overview if you can. The rest of the details you’ll find out in person, but it at least gives you a base to work from. Depending on who you’re meeting will effect what kind of information you’re going to gather. No matter who you are meeting though, the most important detail is knowing their name and how to pronounce it correctly. I can’t stress this enough.
It’s time to meet with them. Show up on time, if not early. As you enter the room walk tall, and if you catch someone else’s eye in the room, smile at them. Entering a room with a confident stride and a pleasant demeanour will put you in the right headspace. If it seems appropriate upon introduction shake this person’s hand.
NGS Picture ID:1422096
Pro tip: The Squeeze. When you shake hands with someone your grip should be light but solid using the whole hand. If you squeeze their hand slightly and count to “two Mississippi” while shaking it then let go, you’ll execute the perfect handshake.
Key things to remember when having a conversation with someone:
women-talking (1)
Eye contact. Imagine the base of a triangle across a person’s forehead just above the eyebrows with the tip of it hitting the divot in the upper lip. This is the range of a person’s face you want to look at while having a conversation. Staring someone directly in the eyes can appear like you’re challenging them, which is off-putting. Looking elsewhere can show a lack of focus and looking at your own hands can decrease the appearance of confidence.
Acknowledgement & Understanding. Acknowledging that you’ve heard them verbally or non-verbally (read: nodding) and demonstrating that you understand the point they are trying to make reassures this person that you are actively listening.
Development. Take a point from what the other person has just said and use it to either form a new question or make a counter point with your own opinion on the subject. This is what will push the conversation forward. Most importantly remember negativity is a limiter. So if you can’t talk on the subject find a way to shift it into a different one.

Ex. Claire tells you she’s a huge fan of live music.
Ask a follow up question: What’s the best show you’ve ever been to? Who is your favourite artist to see live? Do you have a favourite venue?

OR Counter point: “I haven’t been to many concerts but I’d love to go sometime.”
“I haven’t been to any concerts I find crowds overwhelming, but if I could I’d love to see…”

Here’s hoping the conversation flows. Keep in mind finding out what a person is passionate about and if they’re working on any projects/have anything coming up in the near future is great for follow up conversations. This has been the key to my success in building relationships over the years. The next time you see them you already have a starting point to work from. “How is _____ going? Last time we talked you were really looking forward to it.” This reinforces that you were engaged in the conversation and makes the other person feel that you saw them as important enough to remember those details.
When you go to leave, whether or not it went well always leave on a positive note. Thank them for their time, shake their hand (if it feels right), and discuss how you plan to keep in contact if you’re interested in getting together again. If you’ve exchanged contact info it’s good to follow up within a week of your meeting.
Now take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back, you did it!