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12 Statistic-Driven Ways To Make Lasting First Impressions

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Photo: Flickr yushimoto_02

We all know those people: They walk into a room and capture everyone’s attention within seconds. Those are the people that get the dates, the jobs, and the investment wins.These successful types have a few qualities and skills that are psychologically proven to help them make positive first impressions — and they’re skills that anyone can learn.

Before your next interview, business meeting, or networking event, review these proven tips to become a master of first impressions. 

1. Dress for success

Psychology studies reveal that first impressions are formed within 7 to 17 seconds of meeting someone; 55% of a person's opinion is determined by physical appearance. In reality, what you wear is not a shallow consideration; it could make or break your meeting.

It is a good idea to dress conservatively when you meet someone for the first time (even if the office is known as being 'funky' and 'creative'). Be careful with loud accessories, perfumes, hair-styles and shoes that may be distracting; You don't want someone to remember what you wore over your business skills.

2. Choose your words with care

Statistics show that first impressions are also determined by the words people use. In fact, 7% of what we think of others is based on what they say.

Before you meet someone for the first time, think about how you want to come across: optimistic, confident, humble, aggressive, innovative?

Then make a list of words you could use to convey these qualities. While you should not get hung up on this list during the meeting, having a selection in the back of your mind will help you choose words wisely.

3. Strike the right tone

Have you ever instantly disliked someone because their voice sounded brash, whiny or cocky? That is because 38% of person's first impression is determined by tone of voice.

Striking the perfect tone of voice is difficult: You want to appear calm but enthusiastic, confident but humble, determined but secure. Start paying attention to your own tone of voice as well others around you, then practice speaking the way you want to be perceived.

4. Readjust your body language

During face to face meetings, 93% of people's judgments of others are based on non-verbal input like body language. How you stand, sit, and shake hands communicates a lot more than what you say.

Good body posture, a nice smile, and eye contact are essential for making good impressions. It is equally important to avoid crossing your arms (which may signify boredom) or sitting too casually (which could indicate a lack of care).

It is easy to unconsciously strike a pose; stop every few minutes to notice how your body is positioned. You may be harming or helping your case without even knowing it.

5. Use someone's name often

According to a Cal Poly Study, personalizing marketing materials, or addressing potential customers by their name, increases the likelihood that they will respond by 36%. People like it when they are singled out; cater to their ego and call someone by their name.

As soon as you learn someone's name, say it back to them and then repeat it throughout the conversation. When you are finished with the meeting, write them a personal note mentioning all the people you met by full name. While it may seem simple, people are more likely to connect with you if you make the effort to get their name right.

6. Be on time

Always be on time for an initial meeting. People are busy; one of the worst offenses you can commit is not respecting their time.

Even better, arrive 15 minutes early. Spend a few minutes collecting your thoughts and walk into an interview composed. This tactic also leaves time for getting lost.

7. Focus on the other person

Talking to much about yourself will make you appear self-centered and bore your listener.

Before your meeting, make a list of all the things you want to know about the other person: How did they get into their line of work? What business partnerships do they already have/are they seeking to cultivate? What are their business aspirations?

Without getting too deep during a first meeting, show someone you are interested in establishing a connection with them; they will be more likely to want you on board as a result.

8. Be a good listener

35 Business studies analysed by the International Listening centre indicated that listening is a top skill needed for success in business. Unfortunately, most people only retain about 50% of what they hear.

Make an excellent impression by beating this statistic and demonstrating you are an exceptional listener right off the bat.

Exchanges are always better if two people work together to keep the conversation going. React to comments with phrases such as 'interesting,' 'that makes sense,' and 'could you tell me more about that?' Ask follow up questions; it will show you are engaged in the conversation and care about the subject matter.


9. Be careful with humour

Jokes are very hit or miss. One taken the wrong way can send you to social Siberia.

While there is nothing wrong with a little banter, avoid controversial jokes or sarcasm that could be misinterpreted. Everyone is different; before you know someone's sensitivities, it is best to play it safe and tone down the joke attempts.

10. Bring printed materials with you

Bringing materials to a first meeting automatically makes you look like a responsible, organised person.

When appropriate, print out relevant documents such as resumes, business proposals, relevant statistics, transcripts, business cards and case studies. Carry them in an organised briefcase so you can find them easily once you sit down.

The process will make the meeting run smoother and it should impress the person you are meeting. With that said, don't go overboard; they'll think you're a know it all or that you're trying too hard.

11. Do your research

Know as much as possible about the person you are meeting before you're introduced. You will impress someone immediately if you can ask informed questions about their background and signify that you understand their interests/achievements.

With an abundance of social media tools at your disposal, it should not be difficult to dig up some professional information. You might stumble upon a mutual interest or friend that you can drop into conversation for automatic chemistry.

12. Relax and be yourself

Everyone is nervous before a first meeting; there is a lot at stake and the stress can get pretty intense. The more at ease you are, the more the other person can get to know the real you.

Before your meeting, do something that makes you happy: go to the gym, take a bath, listen to music. Instead of focusing on what's at stake, concentrate on pumping yourself up. Make a list of your best qualities, give yourself a pep talk in the mirror, or call a family member or friend who can give you a boost.

During the meeting, pretend you are having a casual cup of coffee with a friend. If you get flustered, don't panic; take a deep breath and keep going. Never assume you are making a bad impression; you never know what the other person is thinking!

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