How to Nail That All-Important First Impression

June 1, 2013

Before we sell any product or service we must first sell ourselves, and consequently, we all must be salespeople to some degree. Unfortunately, however, one of the biggest mistakes most professionals make when they first meet someone is overselling themselves.

Impromptu first impressions are what they are, but scheduled first impressions like sales calls, job interviews, first days at a new job and conference appearances possess numerous mental and physical issues that can be taught with proper training. To that end, we have prepared six tips below from Dale Carnegie Training that are designed to help make your next first impression one of your best first impressions.

1. Dress To Impress — It still holds true in today’s society that your clothes, your hair, and your hygiene are all factors that most people will base their initial judgment on. Yes, it’s true that the workplace is becoming more casual and less stringent about dress codes, but it is always a safer bet to overdress than shoot low.

2. Listen Attentively — Interviewers want to see how genuine your interest is. Drifting thoughts or distant gazes tell a speaker that your attention is elsewhere, which is not only insulting but also leaves a poor first impression. Be sure to nod along with certain points and respond with short phrases like “I agree” or “Hmm” to show you are participating, even if only passively.

3. Use A Speaker’s Name — Each time you include a speaker’s name you show that you’re paying attention, establish certainty of your participation in the discussion, personalize the moment and help make yourself more memorable in the process.

4. Be Articulate — It is better to pause and think carefully for a moment about what you want to say than to just blurt out the first words that pop into your head, especially if they are incoherent and easily misunderstood. Clear, concise communication is valued in the business world, so maintain a moderate pace while speaking, properly modulate your voice and enunciate your words.

5. Skip On The Humor — Resist slipping in a bit of humor or cracking a joke during a first impression. What one person perceives as an innocent thought or comment another might perceive as ignorant, racist, sexist, homophobic, classist or just plain rude.

6. Show Interest in Return — Almost every job interview ends with the interviewee asking the candidate whether they have any questions. It’s those candidates that do have questions, who prove they were listening and thinking critically, that stand out from the crowd

It doesn’t matter if you are a recent hire at a business or the new CEO for some Fortune 500 company — the first impression you make is going to be what defines you for the foreseeable future. So, to make sure your first impressions go smoothly, heed the advice listed above. Dress for success, speak clearly, listen attentively and be wary of humor too soon. Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to success.

This post is brought to you by Dale Carnegie Training of the Northwest, providers of professional development and management course. Please connect with us on Facebook!

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