Let’s face it – meeting someone for the first time can be intimidating. The first 5-10 seconds can be the most important in making a great impression. If you can ace that portion, you are likely to deliver a powerful and positive experience.
1) Get your mind right by using a power pose: The scientific concept of embodiment deals with the connection between our minds and bodies. Amy Cuddy did a study that proved our body language effects our mindset. Power poses are all about opening your body up, and their effectiveness spans across the animal kingdom, from a gorilla beating his chest to show dominance to an athlete raising their arms above their head to the applause of their fans.
You don’t have to act like a gorilla if you fear looking slightly ridiculous. You can simply stand with your arms outstretched above you with your chest pushed out. Check out the striking difference between high- and low-power poses for more ideas.
2) Be physically open. Never cross your arms. Crossed arms are like a barrier, or a big stop sign telling people you’re closed off to conversation. Sitting or standing up straight conveys confidence, but remember to keep your body relaxed so you do not appear rigid.
Aligned with the concept of embodiment, if you are physically open and relaxed, your mind is likely to be open as well. An open mind is naturally inquisitive, and curiosity is one of the most powerful things you can bring to the table if you want to connect with someone.
3) Make eye contact – Always look a person in they eye when you are talking to them. Doing so shows them you are engaged and care about them. When you look into someone’s eyes, you kind of have to focus on one eye or the other, which can be challenging. An old trick I learned from a well-known actor is looking at the bridge of their nose. This will deliver the feeling that you’re looking right at them. At the same time, you do not want to stare too intently because this can come across as aggressive (or, let’s face it, creepy).
4) Always use a person’s name. As Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Using a person’s name is the most thoughtful, personal and respectful way to address them. It automatically makes them feel like they are important to you. If you’re anything like me, and you have trouble remembering names, I wrote a blog post with seven tips for remembering people’s names.
5) Lean in – In terms of body language, leaning in toward a person is another major green light, inviting them to deepen the conversation. Leaning your body slightly toward the other person is a sign of interest, almost as though you are trying to get closer because what they are talking about is so interesting that you want to shut everything else out. It’s a subtle, yet powerful signal to the other person that you really care.
6) Start the meeting off with a sentence that you’ve pre-formulated. If you know whom you are meeting with, do some research to find something you’d like to learn more about them. It could be a question or a statement about the person. For example, if you know the person is into rock climbing, ask them where they like to go rock climbing. This is also a great way to establish common ground.
In the online world, your first impression on about.me is all about the photo because it’s the first thing people will see, especially in the new Intro app. Choose a photo of yourself that shows you in a place where you are feeling comfortable, open and excited. Make sure the picture clearly shows your eyes and your smile is genuine, not forced.
Making a good first impression is the first step in establishing a great relationship. You never know who you may meet and how they may impact your future.