Master First Impressions with 5 Simple Tricks

When it comes to personal branding, one of the things I have my clients do is observe their own behavior when meeting new people.  What can sometimes be a scary and uncomfortable moment (especially for us introverts) can be mastered with just a few tricks for impressing everyone you meet.  Here are my tips on how to make a great first impression:

1. Confident Connection

"Eye contact" sounds so simple, but do you actually do it? Do you connect with someone via their eyes when you shake their hand, when you say their name, and throughout your conversation?  Eye contact will help that person to connect with you and feel like they have your full attention, and even more, will communicate that you're confident!

2. Share the Conversation

You've surely heard the advice to listen more than you speak, but this goes even further than that.  Share control of the conversation.  Don't let the other person manage the ask and answer process, but don't manage that yourself either.  Each of you should be leading parts of the conversation in turn.  This shows that you're invested in the conversation but not controlling, and allows the other person to invest as well.

3. Shake On It

Handshakes, especially for women, are tricky.  Be firm without trying too hard.  Shake, but not like a polaroid picture.  And what if the other person takes your hand weakly and you don't have the chance to show off your stuff?  Give it your best and roll with whatever happens.  

Bonus tip: A friend of mine who was recently promoted to an esteemed power position advises that when it comes to people you've already met to go in for the hug no matter what.  She's not a hugger, but after finding herself holding out her hand to shake while the other person went to hug her (awkward!), she now keeps the shakes just for first meetings.

4. Make 'Em Curious

When answering questions about yourself, speak confidently.  Be proud of your accomplishments or current projects.  But keep your comments and stories to the abridged versions.  It's much better to make people curious or keep them wanting more than to over-share details and wear them out.  You're more likely to be asked for a follow up meeting or to grab a coffee (or depending on the social situation, a date!) if someone wants to hear more from you.  Think of it this way: YOU should think your stories are interesting, but don't assume that others automatically will. 

5. Catch and Release

It won't behoove you or your conversation mates to attach too early at an event.  A habit of us introverts: We find someone we connect with, breathe a sigh of relief, and remain by each other's side through the rest of the event.  The downside of this is that neither of you has the chance to meet many of the other people in the room and make the most of your time there.  You can always circle back to each other later on.

What challenges do you face when meeting new people?  What tips do you have to share?

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