If you have an upcoming interview, first date, networking event, or are meeting a client or someone new for the first time—you will want to make a lasting first impression. The average person, consciously or subconsciously, forms their opinion of you in just seconds. Here is how to make every second count.
The Importance Of Looking Presentable
Being authentic must always be a priority, but it’s also important to be suitably dressed for the occasion at hand. The key is to be dressed appropriately, in clothing that is both comfortable and figure-flattering. Also, look for colors that complement your skin tone and clothing that simply makes you feel more confident when you put it on. This is a good time to bring out that navy pinstriped suit that always looks and feels great on you.
Body Language Speaks Volumes
Your posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, and fidgeting (or lack of) all send messages to those around you. One of the best ways to prepare for a meeting or event you are nervous about is to do mirror work. This might feel uncomfortable at first, but is an excellent way to see yourself as others do. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and practice your interview questions or initial greeting. If you have no full-length mirror, your bathroom mirror will do. Be kind to yourself in this process – it’s not about coming across as perfect. The goal is to deliver body language that is confident, calm, and competent.
The thing to remember when meeting someone for the first time is that you want to be you. When you invest energy in trying to be whom you think your client, date, or other half’s friends and family want you to be, it you can come across as insincere. Inauthenticity is also a leading cause of fidgeting, nervous sweating, and being unsure of what to say next. Remember, no one can do you as well as you can.
No More Awkward Silences
First and foremost, silence isn’t always a bad thing—so don’t feel pressured to fill every second with conversation. You do, however, want to do your homework before you arrive. If meeting with a potential client, you will want to research their company history, the background of the person you are meeting with, and what value your products and/or services can offer. If it’s someone personal, look for common topics to discuss, or inquire about their personal interests. Also, equip yourself with a few non-controversial current topics, or general icebreakers. Asking open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer is a great way to keep a conversation going, as well as to learn more about the person you’re meeting.
Finally, sometimes, your first meeting with someone is spontaneous. Since you don’t have time to prepare, you might feel surprised or the timing could be less than ideal. If you find yourself in an unexpected introduction, and things are going south—take a deep breath (or a few) to regain your composure. Then, if needed, acknowledge or apologize for the rocky start—and begin again. For example, sharing that you just sat in 30 minutes of traffic this morning, and are running severely behind schedule is something we can all relate to and that’s key – to be relatable. Then, focus on being present, and being you. The more you do this, the more comfortable (maybe even fun!) these meetings will be.