How to Make a Great, Professional First Impression

Gerald Lombardo

Gerald Lombardo
November 10, 2022 3 min read

The motivation behind a question like  how do I make a great, professional first impression reveals something—that the asker hasn't yet realized that always and in every case, the best thing you can do is yourself. Always, always, be yourself, because when you are how you act, talk, move, and relate to others all easily and naturally fall into place. 

professional first impression

By not designing this article around postures and one-liners, we can start by discussing the true, best "first impression" secret—which is to be yourself. Your genuine, unencumbered, authentic self.

Why being yourself equals the best first impression

You can either be, as Judy Garland famously put it,a first-rate version of yourself or a second-rate version of someone else’s. This is as true in business as everywhere else.

Whether you’re at a networking event or in an interview relaxing into your authentic self will elevate you, raise your energy and put you in the best possible position to land that job, connect to that interesting person, or start on that exciting new project if you’re struggling to relax or stay calm (the first step toward genuine authenticity) here are some useful tips

Ways to make a great, professional first impression

Once you’re relaxed and are feeling “like yourself” it’s time to consider some tried-and-true tactics.

Make an entrance

At your next interview or networking event you first show up, pay attention to how you enter the room. Smile and do your best to bring positive light energy with you.

Remember that first impressions do not always happen when you're introduced to someone - they happen when someone notices you.

Use people's names

When you first meet someone, be sure to use their name. It's always nice to hear our own names, and it helps create a connection with the person you're talking to. But don't do this too excessively, otherwise, it will seem like you're trying too hard and reading too much Dale Carnegie.

Just be natural by focusing on relaxing and simply keep in mind that "people like hearing their names." The rest will take care of itself.

Look for fun, observational compliments

A great first impression doesn't always have to be serious. If you can find something unique and interesting about the person you're meeting, chances are they will appreciate it.

The key here is to make sure your compliment is genuine and not forced. For instance, maybe you like someone's shoes. Tell them. But do so in a way that makes them feel comfortable and happy about the compliment.

For instance, instead of "Those shoes are cool, where did you get them?" You might say, "Those shoes look great on you." And leave it at that. If you're talking to the right person such a compliment will open the conversation.

If someone asks a good question, tell them

Many people make the mistake of feeling that they must INSTANTLY answer everyone's questions. You don't. You can take a moment to consider, breathe, and reply thoughtfully. It becomes much easier to take your time when you have fillers to use that help put your conversational partners at ease.

For instance, you can say simple "Hm. Let me think." Or, if the question is especially good, offer a genuine compliment. "That's a great question..." Following a compliment like that, most people are more than happy to wait a few moments for your reply.

Remember, it's not all about you

Focus on what others are saying. Be present and actually listen. When you do, things become clear. You'll notice potential conversational directions that are positive, you'll see when someone is responding to you versus wanting to get away.

When you're talking to someone, don't try to dominate them or amplify yourself in an unnatural way. Just calmly talk and explore the topics that are mutually interesting. Don't interrupt, show respect to everyone in the conversation (not just the "top" people), and have fun.

Ways to make a BAD professional first impression

As far as what you shouldn't do during first meetings, simple: Don't interrupt, don't make negative comments, don't be rude, and (perhaps most importantly) don't get wound-up if others do this to you.

Have you heard Maya Angelou's quote when people show you who they are, believe them...So if someone is "showing" you - gracefully disengage. Why waste energy making a good impression on someone who doesn't want to connect when there are so many out there who do.

Be yourself, be authentic, and consider these tips and you'll never fail to make a great first impression.

 

 

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