Whether you’re interviewing for a job, meeting a new manager or co-worker, making a sales pitch, or representing your company at a work event, making a great first impression will help you stand out and potentially lead to more opportunities for success. First impressions happen in a nanosecond and if you can start with a strong and positive first impression it will go a long way in positive interactions moving forward. Here are a few strategies to help ensure you are seen in the best light from the beginning.
Prepare Ahead of Time
This is especially true before an interview or meeting someone important at work; do your research on who you’re meeting through a quick LinkedIn or Google Search to find out their job history. In an article in Harvard Business Review, they say, “Before meeting someone new — whether it’s a potential employer or a new client — do your homework. Know who you’re meeting, what he cares about, and what he might need from you.” Prepare a few talking points ahead of time which you can casually drop into the conversation organically that will “showcase your knowledge, strategic planning abilities, and ‘grasp of the business.’” Additionally, see if you can find similarities or common ground with the person you’re meeting. This shared matter will not only be a great conversation piece but will help them remember you later in a positive light.
While it’s normal to be a little nervous when meeting someone new, don’t enter the situation trying to be someone you’re not. In an article on Time, they recommend “If you’re constantly worried about whether or not you’re doing or saying the right thing, you could appear insincere or too strategic, Zayas cautions. ‘The other person’s going to pick up on that inauthenticity and I think it can be a little bit of a signal that there’s something you’re hiding,’ she says. ‘It can make the person not want to trust you.’” Instead, if you’re feeling nervous, try to think about how you are making others around you feel. By taking the attention a bit off yourself and focusing on being kind and welcoming to those you’re speaking with, you can help calm your nerves and bring you into the present moment. As Maya Angelou’s famous quote says, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Think About Your Body Language
When in a job interview or important meeting, ideally our body language should be confident and comfortable, which is, of course, easier said than done. However, there are a few tricks to help… one is taking a few deep breaths ahead of time and focusing on what can go right in the meeting vs. what can go wrong. By entering the situation with a positive attitude, your body language will naturally be more open and receptive. Throughout the meeting also be mindful of your facial expressions and smiling when appropriate, making eye contact, unclenching your jaw, and uncrossing your arms.