Did you know that you are judged within the first second of meeting someone? It may not seem fair, especially if you’re having a bad day and your hair is all greasy and for some reason you put on the christmas sweater your nana gave you that day – but it’s the cold hard truth. Every day, you have the potential to meet someone new who could have the power to influence your life. Whether it be a new love interest, a new client, or someone who could be looking you to hire you for your dream job. You can’t always step out of the house looking polished (especially when you’re headed to your spin class), but it’s important to keep these things in mind so you know how to always make a great first impression.
1. Don’t have a dead fish handshake
A weak handshake is one of my biggest pet peeves. Girls who offer their hand like they are the Queen of England make me dislike them immediately, and guys who pull this move are even more annoying. Whoever told you that a strong handshake isn’t important is wrong. It displays confidence, a strong personality, and trustworthiness. You don’t need to try and break someone’s hand, but a nice firm handshake along with eye contact and a smile are always an amazing beginning when you meet someone new.
2. Repeat their name
Repeat the person’s name when you first meet them – as in “nice to meet you, Tom”. Repeat it again when you’re leaving – “it was nice to meet you, Tom”. Not only will this make you seem engaged and like you actually cared about the introduction, but it will help you to remember their name in case you ever see them again. Plus, it’s been proven that people love hearing their own names – it makes us feel a little more important and liked, which is always a good feeling.
3. Be open and positive
Even if you’re having a sh*t day, put on that fake happy face and give your best effort to at least seem like an approachable person. Communication coaches often suggest to put it in your mind that you’re speaking with a good friend, so give yourself a moment to breathe, relax and have a sense of humor. Asking questions about the other person is an easy way to make yourself likable, because people generally like to talk about themselves. I always go with food questions – like asking what their favorite restaurant is in the area. If they don’t like to eat, I generally just end the conversation there and walk away (just kidding). Being upbeat and warm will do wonders to leaving a positive first impression of you in peoples minds.
4. Master small talk
Find an opening to ask about the person you’re meeting. Ask how they met a mutual friend or the host of a party, or start it off with a compliment about something that they’re wearing. Remember that you want to share what you’re up to in your life so that people can make connections, but be careful not to talk about yourself too much unless it’s invited – and steer clear of personal information. No one needs to know you have a yeast infection, but people will probably be interested in the new martial arts class you’ve been taking. Listening is even more important when you first meet someone – so keep eye contact, don’t talk over the person, and act engaged, even if they’re describing in great detail the diet of their pet hampster.
5. Don’t look homeless
Before you even open your mouth, your appearance speaks volumes to people you first meet.
* Guys should generally always skip frayed or ripped jeans unless you’re hanging out at a bar or auditioning for a male strip club. I would also stay away from flannel shirts. If you’re going out for a job interview or even a first date, a well fitting collared shirt is key.
* Ladies need to be super conscious of fit as well. Clothes that are too big look unpolished (or like you’re hiding something), while clothes that are too tight will easily make you look cheap, no matter how expensive the clothes are. My rule of thumb is a skirt should ALWAYS fall at a length below your fingertips when your hands are by your sides, and for work situations it should be even longer.
* Keep yourself groomed. If your hair is dirty, a pony tail or bun is always the fastest way to look polished. If your nail polish is starting to chip – remove it asap. Girls always underestimate how awful that looks.
Keep these tips in mind and have people remember you as that totally amazing person they just can’t wait to meet again.