We’ve all seen those people coming in for an interview with a stain on his shirt or a run in her pantyhose. Gross, right? You would never do that, would you? Of course not. We certainly know of the major factors that can help make a good first impression. They include those issues we are all taught, like dressing appropriately, having good hygiene, and being on time.
What can you do, though, when you really want to stand out from the crowd? Of course it makes a difference whether you have spoken with the person before, perhaps on the phone or by email, but for our purposes today, let’s assume you’ve never met these people before.
Since we’ve all learned of those basic factors, they aren’t really going to make you stand out, are they? What can you do that’s above and beyond, that’s unique in an exceptional way? Really, what other things can you do to help make a good impression?
- Do research. If you don’t know whom you are meeting with or much about her company, do some research. Find out names and functions. Find out titles. If you can, find out what the company does and the way people function within it. You’ll be several steps ahead in the ‘getting to know you’ game.
- Be positive. No need for risqué jokes, but do smile. Being upbeat and positive leaves others with a great feeling in response to you because it’s truly contagious.
- Take notes. Don’t be afraid to carry a notepad and take notes. Not only will it help you remember things if the meeting is very long at all, but you will also appear conscientious and detailed.
- Learn names quickly. Both your research and your notes should help you learn names, but try to at least save them in your short-term memory right away. You will impress the people you are meeting with your memory of course, and you will also be able to keep notes and ideas associated with the right people. This comes in really handy when you meet more people than you were expecting.
- Listen. One of the best ways to impress people is to listen to them. You not only gain insights into their opinions and ideas, but it also makes them feel important!
- Be organised. Practice, practice, practice! Whether you are giving a presentation, formal or informal, or you are just discussing some new ideas, have all your ducks in a row. Have documents in order and make sure you have enough copies before you get there. Know in what order you want to discuss your points. Let them see that you plan ahead and know how to organise your thoughts.
- Be polite. This is actually one of the basics ways to make a good impression, but it bears repeating regularly. Nothing impresses as well as good manners and kindness.
As you can see from these ways to improve the first impression you make, they all have to do with your behaviour. What you are doing is showing people how they can expect you to behave in the future. It can make the difference not only in whether they remember you, but how they remember you as well!
Shirley Taylor is a popular speaker, trainer and author of 12 successful books on e-mail, communication and business writing skills. Her bestselling book Model Business Letters, Emails and Other Business Documents seventh edition has sold over half a million copies all over the world.
By John Hester