The Art of Good First Impressions

I was reading through a series of invitations regarding Networking events and it started me thinking about all the times I’ve had to introduce myself.  Whether at a social event, as part of a new volunteer group or at a job interview, self introductions are always one of the things that freak me out a little.  Like everyone else I have heard the “facts” and “truths” about first impressions; things like “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” and “First impressions are never eliminated because every other imression ins merely an adjustment of the first impression.”  Of course, those thoughts always make the process even more intimidating.

But the man of style and substance always finds himself, either voluntarily or as the result of obligations, in the position of meeting new people and handling this process.

How do we do it right?  Here are some tips that have served me well.

Smile.  Few things in the world are as disarming as a genuine smile.  Not a smile that shows your extensive dental work, nor a smile that appears pained and forced, but a simple, warm, genuine smile.  Wherever I have traveled, a smile has always gone a long way to starting an interaction with another human being in a positive direction.

Hi I’m Todd, and you are?  Just this little phrase can change the dynamic in two ways.  First, it breaks down the barrier that both you and the new person might feel, making you more approachable because you made the first move.  Additionally, by asking for the name of the other person, you show an interest in them.  (By the way, use your name, not mine.  That would be just weird…)

What brings you here? or What is your role with the organization?  Depending on the setting, choose the question that best fits, or something along the same vein.  The goal here is to allow the other person to begin talking about themselves.

Listen attentively.  If I am doing anything other than paying attention to the person talking to me, I may have just undone all the work I was doing in the previous 3 steps.

At this point in the interaction, we are at a little less than 90 seconds, and the other person’s impression of you has likely been formed.  By using these 4 little suggestions, hopefully you have been able to keep the interaction from being negative.  And maybe that is all that is needed.  After all, if every interaction results in a gentle adjustment of the previous interaction, every future positive interaction can only help to improve the impression they have of you.  And hopefully, you will learn something about the other person as well.  After all, one of the marks of a man of style and substance is that he knows that everyone has worth and value waiting to be discovered and appreciated.

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