7 Ways to Make a Strong First Impression

first impression job interview professionalWhether it is the first day of class in a college degree program, a job interview or a networking event, a first impression can be an important (and lasting) factor in how you are perceived by others. According to Forbes, you have merely seven seconds to make a first impression.

If you want to stand out from the rest and establish a strong relationship with someone, consider these seven tips to make a positive impression on those you meet.

1.  Don’t be late

It can’t get much worse than setting a negative first impression before you even arrive at an event. Plan ahead, allowing yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going. Pay particular attention to travel times if you will be traveling far or in an area prone to rush hour traffic.

If you know you will be late and have contact information for those who you are planning to meet with, don’t hesitate to contact them to notify them that you are on your way.

2.  Display a firm handshake

Always offer your hand for a handshake when meeting someone new or even to greet someone you have already met, especially when in a professional setting. A firm handshake gives off a sense of confidence and welcomes an opportunity to speak with someone.

It may seem odd, but it is a good idea to practice your handshake with someone. You want to be sure your grip is firm, but not to the point of painful.

3.  Sit or stand up straight

Posture is an important part of your overall body language and can be the difference between looking like you are engaged or interested and looking bored or disinterested. Be aware of your surroundings to determine if people are seated or standing. Either way, always stand up to introduce yourself with a handshake. When standing keep your arms unfolded and by your side, and when seating keep your hands on the table or in your lap.

4.  Smile

Simply put, happy people are just more fun to be around than unhappy people. Smiling will make you seem more approachable, kind and willing to engage.

5.  Maintain eye contact

Eye contact is another significant part of your body language. Maintaining eye contact with those who you are speaking with lets them know you are interested in what they are saying. Eye contact also exudes confidence and helps those you are speaking with read and respond nonverbal cues.

6.  Talk less and listen more

In most professional settings, it is just as important to be quiet and listen as it is to speak. Truly listening to others will allow you to more actively participate in conversations. In addition to being polite, active listening makes it easier for conversations to progress as you can apply your thoughts to the topics which others have previously brought up.

7.  Prepare when possible

Depending on the setting, preparation can be a major factor in feeling comfortable when meeting new people. If you are attending a job interview or another professional event where you know the names of those you will be meeting with, consider looking them up on professional networking websites, such as LinkedIn. This can give you an idea of their professional background, interests they have or more information about the company or organization they are associated with.