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Five Ways to Create a Great First Impression

By Patti Wood MA, CSP
Author of SNAP – Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma

If you think how you dress, walk and stand when you first meet someone can’t possibly make that much of a difference and that as long as you are truly smart, energetic, and hardworking or fill in the blank on your wonderful self, consider this. Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov and co-author Janine Willis, a student researcher who graduated from Princeton in 2005 had people look at a microsecond of video of a political candidate. Amazingly, research subjects could predict with 70-percent accuracy who would win the electionjust from that microsecond of tape.This tells us that people can makeincredibly accurate snap judgments in a tenth of a second.

How can you ensure people are judging you accurately and seeing your true and best self?

  1. Set a positive intention. The most important thing to do for giving a good impression is to set your intention. This is especially important before any kind of big event where you would be meeting a lot of people — i.e. conferences, networking events or friend’s parties. As you get ready or when you are driving over think about what kind of people you want to meet and what kind of interactions you want to have. This can be an incredibly grounding experience and works very well to focus on what kind of energy you want to have for your event.
  2. Think about what you wear and carry. Clothes, make-up, jewelry, watches, shoes and purses are an extension of you. People definitely take someone’s blue eye shadow or hot pink purse and red stilettos into account when making initial judgments. I highly recommend getting some of your favorite outfits or ornaments together and asking friends you trust what they think of when they see them. For many men, they do not realize that their watch can say a lot about them. Yet one of my clients, Omega Watches, knows that even a flash of a Luxury watch can make a difference whether or not taking a lunch will become let’s make a business deal. For women, the new standard of carry a luxury purse and wearing the perfect necklace and bracelets can say how much you care to spend on your appearance. You don’t want to take out a loan to dress for a meeting, but you should be aware of what the standard of dress is for each situation. Make sure that what you are wearing and how you do your hair or make-up says what you want it to say to the people you are meeting for the first time.
  3. Be fully present and aware of your body language. Body language is a crucial part of first impressions. Everything from your posture to how you carry yourself to the way you’re angling your body. Often, simply being aware of your body language can result in immediate improvements. Another way to examine your body language is to look at yourself on a video walking around a room. Subconscious cues to keep in mind include noticing where you point your feet, the position of your shoulders, and the way you shake hands.
  4. Don’t bring your bad mood with you to the party. People who go out for drinks, attend events and mixers after having had a bad day bring all the negative body language with them and so they continue to have a bad day and contamate the people they come in contact with. If you are upset, down or angst ridden your body language reflects it. Others will pick up on this from your facial expressions, comments and body language. That does not mean you need to stay at home. If you’re having a bad day, stay home! You can change your bad mood in an instant by changing your body language hold and move your body up. Bring your head and shoulders up and smile up and in less than a 40th of a second you will begin to feel happy.
  5. Be interested and interesting. When you are meeting people for the first time approach others with a genuine interest in who they are. Lean forward. Show GENTLER listening cues. The energy you give to the people you meet is contagious and you will have better conversations and a lasting connection.