Creating a Powerful First Impression
Although some don’t like to admit it, many are greatly concerned with the first impression that is made to a new acquaintance. The impact one leaves can be the difference between getting and not getting a job or obtaining and not obtaining a contract for your company. There are several factors to keep in mind when meeting someone for the first time, whether it is through electronic means or face-to-face.
Physical Appearance: It is unfortunate but true that when you are in a face-to-face meeting, you are initially judged on your physical appearance. Always err on the side of caution and present yourself in a conservative light. Avoid flamboyant clothing, jewelry, and make-up. Even though you may be confident in your abilities, these things can send the message that you are unprofessional and not capable of performing the job.
Body Language: Many times, body language speaks so much louder than words. From posture to facial expressions, the message being conveyed can be completely different from the intended message. So, it’s important to be aware of how your body is positioned as well as the messages it gives. In addition to posture and facial expressions, be mindful of your eye contact and the tone, pitch, and speed of your voice.
Although posture and eye contact may not be as important when you are communicating on the phone, your facial expressions can be very apparent. Smiling while talking is an easy thing to do that says you are professional.
The first handshake should be firm enough to show you are confident, but not so firm that it cuts circulation to the other person’s fingers. Be sure to include good eye contact while you are shaking hands.
Spoken Words: This is one of the more obvious but neglected aspects of the first impression. Focusing too much time on your physical appearance or body language can cause you to forget to choose your words carefully. Choosing your words carefully is not about you withholding your true self, but remembering there are some situations that require you to be more politically correct or proper. Stay away from the slang you would use with friends or in other less formal situations. Also avoid using too much jargon or words not typically used in everyday language, as this may cause the listener to tune out what you are saying for the mere fact that they cannot understand you.