Secrets To Making a Positive First Impression

Two people in business casual dress are shaking hands. Only their arms are visible in the photo.

You may find yourself making first impressions more regularly than you might think. Various everyday occasions for making a good impression include:

  • Attending job interviews: How you come across to others can be the difference between getting hired or not. Recruiters are trained how to determine how well you fit into their company culture through your first impression.
  • Attending networking events: Networking is all about whom you know and how influential they are. Make a good first impression and if possible, bring a corporate gift that is thoughtful to the industry event you're attending.
  • Attending social events: You don't need to wear your fanciest clothing but make sure that your attire is appropriate to the type of event. 
  • Online dating: In today's society, first impressions help determine how successful a date will be.

There are many ways to make a positive first impression, including the points we’ve highlighted below.

Plan Your Appearance and Attire

First impressions start with your look. They depend on how well-groomed you are, how tidy your clothes are, and how presentable you are in general. To look your best, remember to:

  • Dress for the occasion: If you're going to a wedding, consider wearing semi-formal attire, while an office interview would require a more professional look.
  • Be conscious of how clothes fit on you: If your clothing is too big or too tight, it may not give the right impression. Wear something that fits you to give yourself that extra boost in confidence.
  • Remember to groom yourself: Comb your hair, brush your teeth, and make sure your nails are clean.

Overall, how you look will influence the first impressions you make. So take care of how you dress and how you style yourself to make first impressions count.

Prepare Talking Points

Preparing talking points for situations like open houses, networking, charity events, and other social events can help you unobtrusively break the ice. Ask open-ended questions and be sure to remember names.

  • Meet people where they are. If you're at an event with art, ask about the show or the pieces on display.
  • If you're at a networking event, find someone who's standing alone and introduce yourself. Ask them about themselves and their connection to the event.
  • Teach yourself tricks for remembering names, such as visualizing their name paired with a picture that suggests it or spelling it out.

No matter the situation, the best conversation topics are often ones that get people talking about themselves.

Remember To Make Eye Contact

When it comes to communication and conversation, eye contact is especially crucial. Eye contact helps you evaluate how people feel. Moreover, maintaining eye contact indicates that you're listening and paying attention to the individual you're talking with.

Though direct eye contact can sometimes feel intense and unnatural, there are tips and tricks to maintain natural eye contact, including:

  • Use the 50/70 ratio: When speaking, maintain eye contact 50% of the time and 70% when listening.
  • Make a gesture: Try using a hand gesture to demonstrate your engagement.
  • Avert your gaze to the area around the eyes: If staring someone directly in the eyes is too much, try focusing on another face area such as the nose or lips.

Though it takes time, create a habit out of maintaining eye contact when being social. 

Bring the Right Gifts or Decor

The best way to win people over is by understanding how to make an excellent first impression. The right gifts or decor will help you go about doing just that. Depending on the event, bringing the right gifts or decorations will show how thoughtful and prepared you are for any occasion.

For a date, preserved rose boxes are great conversation starters. Meanwhile, long-lasting roses are beautiful for open houses since they are durable and may be used for display. In contrast to fresh roses, preserved roses are a worthwhile investment, as they last anywhere from one to three years in favorable environments.

Read the Room

Reading the room enables you to gauge how you should approach a new set of people or how to position yourself in a situation. When engaging in conversation or presenting information to a group, keep your language appropriate for the setting and company. 

Be Mindful of Body Language

All of your nonverbal behaviors — gestures, posture, tone of voice, and so on — send strong signals. To maintain a positive first impression, your body language must present you as an approachable person. Although it may seem like there isn't much you can do about your body language, there are some tips on communicating with nonverbal cues, such as:

Head nod: Nodding your head while listening to a speaker indicates that you agree with their message and demonstrates that you are paying attention.

Lean in: Leaning forward or into the conversation creates a sense of engagement and helps to foster interest and excitement. When you lean forward during your conversation, others will be more likely to lean in as well.

Open palms: When in conversation, make sure your hands are in front of you and with palms open; this signals to others how trustworthy you are.

Open posture: Make sure to stand or sit with your legs and arms uncrossed. Leaving them open shows how you are ready for a conversation and willing to connect with others. 

Don't Forget To Smile

Smiling can go a long way towards helping others feel comfortable around you. Though it's not always easy to grin on command, there are ways to help sustain a natural smile that doesn't look awkward or fake.

  • Notice what a genuine smile feels like –– Notice how the muscles in your face feel when you're smiling genuinely. Make a mental note of how the corners of your mouth lift, how your cheek muscles tighten, how your eyes squint slightly. This may help you learn how to flex those specific muscles yourself on command.
  • Practice in front of a mirror –– If you are shy or feel embarrassed about smiling, you might find it helpful to try practicing in front of a mirror. If you're struggling to feel comfortable smiling on command, this might be the best place to start.
  • Take a selfie and examine your smile –– If you are having a hard time figuring out how to smile, try taking a selfie. Set the camera in front of your face and take a photo so that you can see how your mouth looks. Does it look like you're smiling? If not, how can you adjust your mouth so that it appears more genuine?

Remember first impressions are often lasting ones, so it is essential to try your best. It's best not to leave things up to chance, so go into every interaction with a positive attitude and try your best.

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