nervous man
How to make a great first impression

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ike it or not, we are constantly judged. Others judge us on the way we look, on the way we dress, on the way we present ourselves and on just about everything else. All that happens in the first few seconds of meeting someone for the first time. First impressions matter and are a deal-breaker.

[pull_quote_center]What’s the point in working hard to prepare for a meeting, job interview or a date and fail at the first hurdle?[/pull_quote_center]

I’ve been meeting all sorts of people this month and every time I’ve discovered something about me and the way I present myself that needs improving. Most of these “discoveries” are to do with that important first impression. It’s something that I’ve always overlooked.

It takes a lot of work and preparation to make a great first impression and this is what I do.


Be prepared

Preparation is key. You need to know who you are meeting and why. Do your research and find out as much about the person as you can. Ask the Internet, family friends and anyone who may know anything about the person (or persons) you are meeting. Don’t stop there.

If it’s a job interview, you must familiarise yourself with the company and their line of business because you will be asked. So be prepared and have an answer in mind for any questions regarding the business that are likely to come up.

If you are going on a date, then find out about the person’s interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes and anything else. You can use social media to find some of that information but don’t be creepy. Don’t send them friend requests – go on your date first and see how it goes. Don’t message their friends bragging on about your date and asking for tips. Don’t have lengthy conversations with your “mates” on your timeline about your date and what you like to do. Just don’t.

Know yourself

The person(s) you are meeting will be finding information about you too. Don’t forget that and be prepared to answer questions about yourself.

If it’s a job interview, then you must know your CV by heart and be prepared to talk about your work and achievements. Make sure you know “why you want that job” and “what you can bring to the company”. Cliche questions but they always ask.

A word of warning about social media: employers are on Facebook and Twitter too and they may look at your profiles. Don’t share anything on your profiles that may turn against you. If you are a party animal with the social media profiles (and pictures) to illustrate it, then perhaps make your profile private or restrict access to it. Resist the urge talking about the company too.

If you are going on a date, then be prepared to answer questions about your job, hobbies, interests, likes, dislikes etc. Don’t go on about your job and how good at it you are or how much you hate it. That’s a bit of a turn off. The same goes about your hobbies and other interests you may have and like to mention.

Keep it brief and to the point unless you find something you both have in common. Then you can go on about it but not forgetting to get your date involved in the conversation too. It’s about them as much as it is about you.

A word of warning on social media: keep it clean. The chances are that your date has already checked your Facebook and Twitter. Be prepared to answer questions about pictures and experiences that you have shared online.

Feel good and look good

It’s the day before your important meeting/job interview/date. Time to get ready. You need to decide what you are going to wear and make sure your clothes are washed and ironed, and your shoes polished. People look at your shoes too and they can tell a lot about you just by looking at your shoes.

Next thing you need to do is a bit of grooming. If you need a haircut, now is the time to do it. Make sure your hands and nails feel and look good too. Have a relaxing bath and make sure you have a good night sleep. You need to look fresh and rested, so no partying and late nights out.

You need to smell good too. Choose a nice scent but be careful not to overdo it. An overpowering aftershave is just as bad as BO. Limit yourself to 3-4 squirts.

Be confident

Arrive early and take a few moments to compose yourself. It’s normal to feel nervous and the person(s) you are meeting is/are likely to feel a little nervous too. Don’t let nerves get the better of you. Breath, have some water and calm down before you walk in. Now is the moment you have been preparing for.

When you walk in, introduce yourself and ask for the person(s) name(s) if they don’t introduce themselves. Don’t forget to smile like you mean it. Hold your head high and be confident (but not cocky). It’s your time to shine.

You have made your first impression and a great one too (providing that you took note of the above). Don’t stop now. Show them how good you are. Answer their questions, maintain eye contact (but don’t stare at them) and maintain your good posture. Don’t wave your arms all over the place when you talk, sit upright and try to relax.

[quote_box_center]At the end of your meeting/date/job interview you mustn’t forget to thank them for inviting you and for their time.[/quote_box_center]