We all know that you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression and that the first impression is the one that lasts – so you need to make it count.
Think about what you notice in a person the first time you meet them – what they are wearing, cleanliness, their manners, facial expressions, body language, even sincerity – it all registers instantly, and once that impression has been made, it can be almost impossible to change it.
So, we’ve come up with six top tips that will help you to make that killer first impression. Be it at an interview or a networking event – keep these tips in mind before your next meeting with someone new and they will remember you for all the right reasons:
1. Be On Time
We all know this is essential, however many still show up late for interviews or events. For an interview, not showing up on the scheduled time immediately puts the potential employer on alert and shows that you’re not responsible or dependable. For networking events, while it may not be as important to be the first one to show up – if you are, it could be a great opportunity to get the second, third and fourth guests’ undivided attention, which could potentially yield huge benefits.
2. Outline An Intention
Having a goal while meeting new people can also boost that first impression. Take a moment before you attend an event to think about what exactly you want to project and whom you’d like to meet. “The most important thing to do to make a good impression is to set your intention,” suggests Vanessa Van Petten, CEO of Science of People, Forbes. “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.”
The concept of dressing up for an interview or an event has changed over the years. For a job interview, while you should always appear neat, tidy and well-dressed, the definition of well-dressed can completely depend on what job you’re applying for. A good rule of thumb is to look at the company website and see how the leaders of the company have dressed for their profile pictures. Whether they are in full professional attire or business-casual you should match it.
However, if they look completely casual remember this is still an interview – so it is always better to be a bit too smart and use the opportunity to show respect for the position through your attire. This is also a great opportunity to show your personality. The interviewer wants to see the real you, so using colours and accessories to show them a small part of your true self is a great way to stand out.
4. Maintain Good Body Language
It’s normal to be nervous at an interview or a networking event, especially if you don’t have much experience with them. However, it is very important for you to keep your body language open, friendly and inviting in conversation, as even if you are feeling nervous on the inside, you can easily mask it through proper body language on the outside.
Use your body language to keep the people you are meeting engaged with you. One technique is to mimic the body language of the person you are talking to. If they’re smiling and look relaxed, do the same or if they tend to lean forward in conversation, mirroring them can make you look more engaged.
5. Pay Attention
This one goes hand-in-hand with body language. You need to show that you’re interested and actively engaged. Make sure to keep eye contact and try not to get distracted by everything else that is happening in the room. At both an interview and a networking event, you are there for a specific reason – so keep the conversation focused on the task at hand or the knowledge you wish to share or gain.
6. Be Prepared for the Conversation
For interviews, do research about the company itself and learn about what your job responsibilities will be. Then write out a list of possible questions that you’ll be asked or are likely to hear during the interview, such as, ‘What are your long-term goals? Where do you see yourself in five years? And why do you think you are the top candidate for the job?’ – to make sure that you have well prepared answers.
Also make sure to practice conversation for both interviews and networking events. Ask your friends or family members to help you out with practice and role play. If they’re not available, you can practice your conversation in front of the mirror or even record yourself. Remember, the more you practice conversation, the more comfortable you’ll feel when the actual interview or event comes.