Many people don’t realize how important a single glance at a person's face is in forming a first impression. It's been found that in less than one second, people already form judgments about your character – whether on a first date, job interview, or event. After this initial first impression, you still have a chance to grow approval through other actions, but putting off a bad first message automatically puts you behind in your efforts. Sure… its not really fair, but this is reality. So how can you give a great impression without even saying a word? Here are a few ideas that could help out:
1. Dress like you care
One of the ways you can be sure to make a good impression before your engagement is to but care and time into your outfit. If you are going to a networking event or business function, you should always strive to dress at the level of the top 25% who will be attending. That means over-dressing a little bit is smart and will give you instant respect. Of course, if the occasion is very casual you don’t want to be the one person standing out – but in the vast majority of cases a nice dress shirt with suit jacket and pants will be a safe bet. As for the tie, maybe keep one with you if you aren’t sure whether anyone else will be wearing one or not.
2. Prepare for the occasion
Along the same lines, you should have an idea of the type of event you will be going to is, based on the type of person/people that will be there, as well as the venue. This will give you a good idea to plan about how you will present yourself and act. Nothing is worse than showing up to an activity and it being totally different than you thought! If you are going on a first date, maybe you can get an idea of what your companion will wear by asking in a friendly and playful way.
This is an easy one. People are naturally more attracted to smiling people, and it instantly will help with your first impression. Conversely, a scowling person will turn people off right away. However, how you smile is also important, as you don’t want to look very fake and disingenuous. To do this, try to think of some related (or unrelated) happy or fun things that takes your mind off any negative thoughts… and gives people a great impression of the fun person you really are.
4. Make Eye Contact
Eye contact is a nonverbal form of communication. It doesn't take a high level of media literacy to know eye contact is a show of honesty and respect to the person that you are talking with (or going to be talking with). The tricky thing is to keep good and positive eye contact, without seeming like you are staring or giving off an aggressive impression. One reference point is using a 60/40 eye contact mix, with 60% eye contact being the ideal goal to indicate paying attention without aggression.
5. Use positive body language
Body language is very important in setting a first impression for your interview, date, or event. Here are 3 important tips to keep in mind that will help:
* Stand or sit up straight, and hold your head up. This will make you appear comfortable and confident
* If possible, don’t cross your arms or legs. Doing this subconsciously closes you off from the other person
* Make sure to give a good, firm handshake that is confident but doesn’t crush the person’s hand or make them uncomfortable
6. Put away your phone
If your head is down looking at your phone, then instantly you will turn off the people from around you. Either they will think that you are pre-occupied with other things that don’t relate to them or the engagement, or that you are not confident and are using the phone as a way to avoid being involved. Both ways are not good in any occasion – and especially if you are on a date or interview.
7. Act confidently
Act confident, even if you are nervous or have concerns. This appearance of self-assurance will contribute to a better first impression, and bring you into a positive feedback circle that will give you more and more genuine confidence. For sure you have a lot of strengths, so don’t be shy to show your positive personality to those around you!
Looking for more tips specifically for a job interview you have coming up? Check out our feature on How Does The Outfit You Wear Affect an Interview and be sure to get the job or raise you are looking for!