7 Steps to Make a Killer First Impression

If you have been reading my weekly blogs, you will know that I am very passionate about being an Image Coach. In fact, I would love to be your image coach! I am entirely devoted to helping every client at  Jennifer Grant International to 'dig deeper and try harder' to be the very 'best' version of themselves. I don't mean just every now and then, I mean every single day.

I am reasonably confident that all of my clients would agree that I practice what I preach when it comes to a making a positive impression. I have spent a lifetime improving, refining, learning new skills and updating my own image to project the best version of myself. Now that I am an image coach, I strive even harder to lead by example. 

It doesn't matter if it's 5:00am or 12:00 midnight, if I am grocery shopping, or at the gym, the truth is, you would be hard-pressed to find me not wearing lipstick, a nice outfit and matching accessories. Admittedly, my stage ready appearance habits might be considered extreme for some, but for me, it is simply who I am. If you want to meet me in the middle however, I am happy to share a very achievable 7-point reminder list on how to make a best impression.

1. Keep it Simple

To keep it simple, just remember that your personal and online image needs to look professional and polished, and not over the top. Whether you like it or not, your appearance is being judged every day and by nearly everyone you come into contact with. Remember also, that many first impressions are made online and well before a face to face meeting takes place. You want to make sure your digital image and your personal image complement each other and that people can tell that you are actually one in the same person. Photoshop is a wonderful thing but there is a limit and I am sure you know what I mean. 

2. Project an Image of Confidence and Success

Your professional goals matter when meeting new people as much as they matter in other areas of your life. Take a moment before you attend an event to ponder what type of impression you hope to make, whom you would like to meet and what type of message you want to impart. The most important thing you can do to make a good impression is to be mentally alert and always have your radar on. If you are attending a business or networking meeting, think about what kind of interactions you want to have, then follow through and make those interactions happen. 

3. Don’t Launch First

If you really want the person you are meeting for the first time to like and trust you then you should practice controlling your urge to launch first. Launching into your area of expertise and accomplishments doesn't impress too many people right off the bat. Ironically, one of the best ways to win people's confidence is simply to let them talk first. Your first meeting with someone is not a negotiation and you don’t need to take charge of the conversation. You want to be warm, interested and engaging. Small talk is a good thing when you first meet someone you are trying to make a favourable impression on.

4. Making Eye Contact

It is true that our eyes are the windows to our souls. You do however have to find a good balance between not having your window shutters closed tight but also not staring so intently that the person you are speaking with thinks you are a sociopath. Eye contact, at least in the Western world shows respect and interest. You can also show appreciation, reassurance and understanding with eye contact. There is nothing worse than having a conversation with someone who is staring out the window or constantly looking over your shoulder to see if there is someone more important or interesting to chat with. That is just plain rude!

5. Pay attention to how fast or how slow you're speaking 

Back in the '70s, researchers created over 50 synthetic voices and played them to participants at various speeds. Increasing speech rate led participants to assume the owner of the voice was more competent. The participants who listened to the slowed down tapes rated the interviewees as less truthful, less fluent, and less persuasive. All to say, just make sure you are not talking like Alvin the chipmunk or Droopy Dog.  Somewhere in the middle is  best. 

6. It Is Alright To Be Vulnerable

You'd think that with first impressions it pays to be as polished and perfect as possible, but experts say that showing your vulnerable side can be endearing and empowering. You need to exercise good judgement when to let your guard down but generally speaking, it is more acceptable these days to show that you are a real person and that you have career and life challenges just like the person you are speaking with.  

7. In Person is Always Better

When meeting an important new contact for the first time, if at all possible try to do it face to face rather than over the phone or a video chat. Many studies say that first impressions are formed differently in person versus online or by video. You can better gauge how interested someone is in what you are talking about by reading their body language. If you are in a meeting and your colleagues are fiddling with their pens, or checking their phones and watches, you know that you have to: 1) adjust the tone of your voice or 2) use more exciting language to capture their attention. Likewise, if colleagues and partners are actively nodding their heads and smiling, it is clear that they are engaged with you and your message.

If you are ready to take your image to the next level Jennifer Grant International is at your service. Let's do this!

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