Want to Make Better First Impressions? Follow These 5 tips!

5 Tips for Making Better Impressions

If you only get one opportunity to make a first impression, you need to make it count. But, how do you put your best foot forward when you are feeling nervous or insecure? Here are five tips to help you start making killer first impressions.

  1. Prepare, within reason. When we prepare for upcoming events, we tend to experience more confidence and less anxiety. That said, while preparation can be empowering in some situations, it can actually hurt us in others. In professional arenas, it's important to familiarize yourself with relevant details relating to a client, company or industry. In social situations, however, it's not always a good idea to over-prepare. In these instances, you want to come off as natural. With this in mind, it's better to avoid rehearsing conversations and just be yourself.
  2. Show interest. Sometimes, people can come off as aloof when they are actually feeling shy or uncomfortable. Whether you are in a professional or social situation, it's always best to show interest when engaged in conversations. This means maintaining eye contact without looking down at the floor. You should also ask questions to convey your interest and promote conversation. Obviously, it's a lot easier to ask follow-up questions if you are listening to what the person is saying; so don't zone out or get lost thinking about the next thing you want to say.
  3. Stand tall. While it's good to avoid coming off as overbearing, you don't want to appear timid and insecure. That said, according to research, a firm handshake and assertive demeanor aren't necessarily the secret to making good impressions. In a recent study, Harvard Business School social psychologist Amy Cuddy found that people tend to make instant judgments about people based on whether they believe they will be trustworthy and competent. So, how do you convey these traits? There is strong evidence to suggest that posture and body language are the greatest determinants. With this in mind, you should focus on standing tall with your shoulders thrown back. For more information on the power of body language, check out Cuddy's recent Ted Talk.
  4. Connect. When we meet someone new, we tend to resort to small talk. Instead of asking someone what they do for a living, try to find some common ground so you can make a human connection. The most effective networking involves authentic relationships and not just polite interactions. You will be much more memorable at social and professional events if you come off as a real person with a real life, filled with family, friends and interests.
  5. Smile. It may seem like a simple thing, but a smile can go a long way toward determining how people judge you. According to surveys, a smile is the feature people remember best after meeting a new person. In fact, it's nearly twice as memorable as anything the person says. Research has shown that smiling makes us look more attractive and feel more confident, while also making us appear more likable, courteous and competent.

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