Some scientific studies say a first impression is formed in 30 seconds, others say 7 seconds and a 2006 Princeton study says it can happen in less than 1/10 of a second! No matter which study is right, we can all agree that it happens quickly and whether it is an interview, a sales call or a social event, you don’t want to miss out on making the best of your first encounter with the other party. So here are some suggestions on how to do that:
- Arrive early - especially allow yourself extra time if you have to deal with traffic, parking or weather concerns.
- Dress the part - how to dress for an interview is a separate topic, but you should dress appropriately for the setting and purpose of the meeting. There’s a lot of discussion about personal style and how you express yourself in your dress, but it is always best to err on the conservative side rather than being too casual.
- Grooming matters - this includes everything from hair care to make-up, not wearing a heavy scent and being aware of your breath. This is especially important if you are a smoker. For those with pets, go over your clothes with a lint brush just before you leave or keep a lint brush in your car.
- Smile and make eye contact - nothing gives the impression of ease and confidence like a big smile and direct eye contact. (You don’t have to stare in to their eyes for the whole meeting, but make eye contact often when you are speaking.)
- Practice your handshake - there is an art to doing this well. Here’s a video tutorial.
- Be attentive throughout the meeting - put your cell phone and other electronics away while you enjoy conversation.
Introverts can have a hard time making a good first impression. Here’s a 2015 article from Inc.com that can help those who feel socially awkward.