- A good first impression goes a long way in terms of success, whether you’re broadening your network of contacts, trying to nail a job interview, or persuading investors.
- Understanding the timeframe of a first impression, making eye contact, and leading with a firm handshake will help you impress whoever you’re meeting.
- Here are five ways to impress everyone you meet.
It pays to make a good impression wherever you go, regardless of your field or where you are in your career. Seeming friendlier and more professional can help you nail a job interview, successfully persuade potential investors, or simply broaden your network of contacts.
John Rampton, entrepreneur and contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, knows a thing or two about making a good first impression. He hasover 1.5 million Twitter followersand is a regular speaker at professional networking events. Business Insider spoke with Rampton about ways to be more memorable that anyone can implement:
1. Understand the timeframe of a first impression
It’s natural to think you might have upwards of a few minutes, but Rampton pointed toresearch from Princetonwhich indicated that it only takes a tenth of a second for the average person to confidently judge traits like competence, trustworthiness, and likeability.
“That means you may not have time to even open your mouth before an impression is made, so make sure you’re dressed for the occasion, properly groomed, and smiling when you meet someone new,” Rampton said.
2. Lead with a firm handshake
- Miodrag Skilja/Shutterstock
Leading with a firm, confident handshake is a go-to piece of advice from armchair experts around the world, but scientific research validates its benefits. A studyfrom the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscienceshows that when people lead with a strong handshake, they’re more positively received.
“Your first interaction with anyone should be a handshake, and it can make or break your first impression,” Rampton said. “It’s really that important. Don’t be afraid to practice with a friend or family member and ask for honest feedback.”
3. Allow space in your first conversation
According to Rampton, many people try to dominate an initial conversation with a new person – they feel like silence is awkward, so they attempt to fill it as quickly as possible with a joke, an anecdote, or a unique perspective.
But this could make you come off as domineering or aggressive. “Rushing to fill the void of a new interaction can leave people with a negative impression,” Rampton said.
He notes another tendency at networking events for some people to seem hurried in conversations, and attributes it to the societaltrend of busy bragging. “Busyness, more and more, is being seen as a status symbol, and it’s being used to convey authority and importance in new interactions,” Rampton said. “Resist the temptation to rush through the conversation. It’s better to be comfortable with a bit of silence, and give the interaction time to shape up naturally.”
4. Make eye contact
A studyfrom the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found a significant positive correlation between steady eye contact during a conversation and perceptions of intelligence.
“Keeping eye contact can not only make you seem friendlier and more confident, but more intelligent as well,” Rampton said. “This is another thing that can take some practice, since it can be uncomfortable to hold sustained eye contact with someone you’ve just met.”
5. Mirror them
People tend to be more comfortable around others who share their physical characteristics or behavioral habits, as demonstrated from studies on service industry tips, sales, academic favors, and speed dating.
You can use this to your advantage by mirroring the body language, posture, and even the speaking tone of others. “Pay close attention to how they’re holding themselves, and how they speak,” Rampton said. “Don’t engage in so much mimicry that you seem like a parrot, but do try to display the same emotions, and rely on similar forms of nonverbal expression.”
Make it a habit
The real secret is turning these actions and behaviorsinto habits. Once they become second nature to you, you won’t have to think about them as much, and you’ll effortlessly impress the people you meet in your day-to-day life.