How to make the best first impression at work – Lessons on how to rise above mediocrity
In the marketplace, first impressions are as important as hard work. You want to be memorable and likeable, whilst coming across as professional and capable.
But it’s easy to get confused by all the advice out there. You may be so worried about trying to follow it all, that you forget to just be your usual friendly self! These tips are practical and doable-it may be very good to mirror movements and that kind of thing, but in practice these things are difficult to do whilst also talking and interacting.
Ten ways to make a great first impression
1. Be on time
If you are going to a specific event, make sure in advance that you are prepared and give yourself enough time to get ready and travel there so you don’t arrive flustered. Organise it so that you will be a bit early-giving you extra time in case of mishaps on the way, and make sure you check travel news for roads or public transport.
2. Be happy
Before any event or meeting, make sure you are in a good mood-maybe listen to your favourite song or watch something funny. This way you will be relaxed, friendly and optimistic. People are drawn to those who seem fun and happy!
3. Feel good
So clothes and appearances aren’t everything, but in the business world it is important to look smart and professional. Plus, looking good will make you feel confident and prepared. Give your outfit a quick iron if necessary and make sure it is clean, fits well and looks presentable. Also make sure what you’re wearing is appropriate for the occasion.
4. Relax and be yourself
Don’t panic and try to exaggerate or lie about your achievements. Don’t try to be something you’re not-it will just make you edgy, and usually people will be able to tell that you are not being genuine. If you feel nervous, take a deep breath and try to keep your speech at a normal pace-we tend to speak quicker when we’re tense. .
5. Introduce yourself
Make sure people know your name and what you do. Be confident and introduce yourself with a smile-don’t sound apologetic for being there! You could practice your introduction at home if this will help, and make sure you have a good handshake (you can find out how online!) Social events are a great way of making new contacts, so it’s important everyone knows exactly what you do and can put a name to the face!
6. Remember to engage
Make sure you’ve done research about the person or company if necessary so you can ask interesting questions. If this is a social event, perhaps in advance think of topics for small talk so you have something to start with when meeting people. When you are talking, actually listen to the other person-don’t just think of what you’re going to say next. It’s also important to make eye contact (but don’t stare!) This way you will seem interested and involved.
7. Be positive
On your first meeting with someone, don’t drone on about how awful everything is. Be enthusiastic and optimistic, making sure your voice sounds full of energy and you smile lots. It’s much more fun to be around someone optimistic than being dragged down with someone else problems. If you find yourself at an event stuck with the miserable person, make your excuses and move on-you don’t want to be associated with them!
8. Remember your manners
This should be built into your system anyway, but sometimes when we’re nervous it’s easy to forget to follow etiquette. Make sure you only take a seat when offered, if it is a formal meeting, and say please and thank you. Don’t interrupt others and let the other person speak. A few good manners can go a long way towards making a good lasting impression!
9. Leave a lasting memory
Be sure to say goodbye properly when leaving, with a handshake and give the impression you’ve enjoyed yourself. Tell people you hope to meet them again, and if acceptable, swap details with possible future contacts.
10. It’s never too late
Finally; remember that although first impressions are important, they’re not irreversible. If you are having a bad day and later realise that you were unfriendly or may have not made a great impression don’t worry. Get in contact again and this time make sure you feel confident and happy, and you could even explain your reasons for not being so great the first time!