5 ACTIONABLE STEPS IN MASTERING YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION
Over your lifetime you will meet roughly 80,000 people. Research shows that on average we meet 3 new people every day, if you do the math and live till 80, the numbers add up.
This means that in 2017 alone you will you make 1,000 first impressions.
It is no secret that those who come off as “likeable” to each person they meet, win. They build more meaningful relationships and they have more diverse groups of friends, which over time creates more opportunities.
Yet if you think back to just the roughly 1,000 people you made contact with in 2016, how many of them stood out? More importantly what were they doing differently to consistently make strong first impressions from the hundreds of other people you met?
For starters, they understand that leaving a quality first impression is not formed because of one thing in particular, but a combination of steps that can be easily implemented to those willing to put in the time.
What follows are 5 techniques that when linked together will help to become more memorable when meeting new people.
1. THEY GIVE THEIR NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION THE ATTENTION IT DESERVES:
Those who consistently give off strong first impressions understand one simple rule: first impressions begin to be formed the second they are seen, not when they are heard, and their body language and facial gestures reflect this at all times. The best looking suit or most intelligent person in the world loses instant credibility points if they are demonstrating poor posture and have a glum look on their face. Most clichés have a ton of truth to them: stand up straight and smile is no exception.
2. THEY ASK NORMAL QUESTIONS:
Leaving a strong first impression does not have to mean knocking the socks off of someone, your goal should be simply to leave a memorable enough impression to warrant a second one. Most likely if you have someone on your radar that you want to meet, you already have a few mutual connections. A very simple, yet highly effective introduction is “Hello Steve, I believe we have a mutual friend in Ian”. Besides being very hard to walk away from, this question starts a normal conversation and if you listen attentively, and ask quality follow-up questions to learn more about them a connection will begin to form.
3. THEY ARE PRESENT IN THE MOMENT:
The average person can interpret speech at a rate of 500 words per minute, but the average person speaks at a rate of only 150 seconds per minute. The people that can stay focused and do not allow their mind to wander when others are speaking, stand out. A common thread that runs consistent in people that have a “presence” about them is their ability to make others feel like the only person in the room. They accomplish this by not rushing and by focusing on one person at a time, one conversation at a time, knowing that quality always trumps quantity. It is very easy to see who is present in a conversation, and for those on the receiving end, it is even easier to feel.
4. THEY FOCUS ON HOW THEY HELP PEOPLE, NOT THIER JOB TITLE:
Asking quality questions and giving each person the attention that they deserve is key, but so is confidently talking about yourself when the conversation turns in your direction. Clay Hebert, founder of Crowdfunding Hacks, after leaving a first impression that failed to impress, came up with this easy to adapt formula to help others generate interest when meeting new people:
I + help (or some version) + who it is you help + the result you help them to achieve.
“I help entrepreneurs clarify their message” or “I assist small businesses in growing their audience”. This simple formula creates curiosity and even a little shade of mystery around you, which never hurts in creating a memorable first impression.
5. THEY KNOW HOW TO CLOSE:
“The best place to leave an interesting conversation is in the middle, so we can make plans to see each other again and finish it at a later date. Drinks one evening?”. I have been given some variation of this line on more than one occasion and for good reason, it works. Often times we worry so much about what we are going to say to initiate and advance a conversation that we forget the importance of how to end one. An uncomfortable parting exchange can leave a sour taste and negate all the hard work you’ve put in up until that point. Listen to how people leave conversations, steal a few lines that hit home and make them authentic to you. The best first impressions always end strong.
If I learned anything in 2016 it is that you never know where someone you meet today will be tomorrow. The guy you sit next to everyday on the bus may turn out to be the future CEO of a PR firm that can give your new project some legs. Or the woman who serves you coffee each morning has a knack for editing. You just never know who you are standing next to, and you never properly will, if you do not take the time to perfect your first impression.