By the time you have read this sentence, you have already made your first impression. Some researchers determined that first impressions are made in as little as a 1/10th of a second within meeting someone new. Other researchers believe it takes between 7 and 60 seconds for someone to form an opinion about you. The bottom line is that first impressions are fast.
How are First Impressions Made?
Considering that first impressions are made within seconds of meeting someone, most of their judgment is coming from the person’s physical appearance.
What is the person wearing? Do they look polished, or sloppy? Do they look like they are on their way to a business meeting or to run errands?
What is their body language? Do they appear confident? Friendly? Bored?
Once your brain has filtered through its initial questions about their appearance, you start to form a story about this person’s life—their job, lifestyle, status, etc.. And after this first impression, you will continue to think of this person through that initial filter. This is why it is extremely important to make a great first impression.
5 Ways to Make a Great First Impression
When it comes to networking and meeting people in the business world, first impressions can be the difference between landing a new client or losing their interest altogether. Over the years, I have compiled my top five ways to make a great first impression.
- Make sure your online profile matches who you really are. In today’s digital world, there is a good chance that the person you are meeting has already googled you and taken a quick look at your LinkedIn profile. Take a close look at your online presence and make sure it accurately reflects who you are, what you do, and what you look like. Make sure your headshot is up-to-date and your job position is current.
- Dress for success. The clothing you choose should follow a few guidelines. First, your outfit should be widely accepted as appropriate within your industry. Second, your clothing should reflect who you are as a person. For example, if you are a creative person, you may include some pops of color or patterns into your attire. Last—but certainly not least—regardless of your industry or personality, always make sure you look clean and polished. How you are put together can make or break your first impression.
- Be mindful of your body language. Generally speaking, in the world of business networking, you want to appear confident, approachable, and friendly. Stand or sit up straight, do not cross your arms or legs, and put a smile on your face when first meeting someone new. And don’t forget to practice your handshake, or in these times, your socially distanced wave or virtual smile.
- Prepare your elevator pitch. As we all know by now, your elevator pitch is your one opportunity to make yourself stand out. Prepare an elevator pitch that says who you are, what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it. Keep it short, sweet, and compelling. You want to draw the other person in, and encourage them to ask more questions.
- Listen more than you talk. At this point, we have surpassed the initial filter for first impressions, but if you followed the first four steps, you have already made a great first impression. So, it’s time to really nail the entire first encounter. After you have made introductions and gotten past small talk, remember to always listen more than you talk. Ask questions about the other person, what they do, and why they do it. Be interested, not interesting.
What are your favorite ways to make a great first impression? Do you agree with my suggestions? I want to know. Schedule a Java with Jim so we can chat!
ABOUT JIM RIES
Director of Business Development
email@example.com | 410.209.6455
Offit Kurman is a full-service law firm with over 225 attorneys focused on representing privately-held businesses. With deep experience and knowledge dealing with the issues that business owners are regularly faced with, we bring value to every relationship. As Director of Business Development, Jim Ries drives revenue growth for Offit Kurman by helping business leaders and families of wealth address some of their most difficult challenges. He also identifies and develops strategic partnerships and market opportunities. Jim has access to a deep network of attorneys in every practice area, and he is able to connect his clients to the right attorney who can resolve their legal disputes and protect their assets. Jim is a master networker, and his high-level connections call him for solutions when they don’t know who to call. Let Jim be your Google.
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