Everyone always emphasizes how important making a good first impression is, but what exactly makes up a good one? The answer can vary from person to person, depending on their interests, skills, and personality.
Here are a few general go-to actions to help ensure that you’re making a good and lasting impression.
What Is An Impression?
By definition, an impression is an idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence. Essentially, an impression goes hand-in-hand with your personal brand. It represents how others see you initially without knowledge of your personality, skills, or attributes. Impressions are highly important, being that the workforce is not getting any less competitive. Networking and making connections are a priority. Though, as everyone is doing that same thing, leaving groundwork for an opportunity starts with that first interaction. This is true whether this person is a fellow colleague or random stranger.
Although it may seem like a small thing, eye contact is extremely important. Maintaining it will help the person you are speaking with know that they have your undivided attention. Also, you’ll demonstrate that you care about what they have to say. Although it is no crime to look away from their eyes from time to time, ensuring you look at them while they are speaking, as much as possible, shows confidence. It also illustrates a more engaged and friendly attitude. Eye contact and body language are two key components to let the speaker know that you are actively listening, rather than having your own thoughts while they speak.
This one seems like an obvious one, however, there is a difference between formal friendliness and informal. Depending on who you are speaking with, you might have to act a certain way and not be too casual. Professionalism is important, but on the other hand, being yourself and having a relaxed attitude can’t hurt. Additionally, it allows the person to see a little bit into who you are outside of a business setting. If you have a genuine and positive aura, they are more likely to remember you.
Treat Every Interaction Like It’s Your First
At least the first couple of times. Although you might have impressed a fellow worker the first time around, don’t just drop the ball there. Most of the friends and people you know now were not your friends instantly. You need to get to know someone more to fully grasp who they are. First impressions can certainly help get your foot in the door. So, be friendly and ask questions.
No Time? Elevator Pitch!
Regardless of your industry, having an elevator pitch ready to use is a smart strategy. If you ever find yourself in a situation surrounded by higher-ups or just one other person, you want to be able to promote yourself fast, and eloquently. For example: You are walking to your office and you approach the elevator door. Then, you place yourself next to a man who looks to be your senior. He has a badge with a company name – one you recognize and have been looking into. Now’s your chance to do your pitch.
Constructing your Elevator Pitch:
- Develop an objective: What do you want to emphasize? Are you working towards a specific goal or multiple? Do you just want to advertise your organization or get involved in another?
- Describe what you do: Start with an introduction of who you are and what you do. Keep it brief- a sentence at most- as it will make the listener want to know more.
- End with a question: Ask about them and what they do, opportunities within the company, or any contacts they may know to build your network.
- Put everything together: Once you have the above, put it all together and PRACTICE!
You never know who you might meet and where, so preparation is key. If you use these tips correctly, you’ll plant yourself in the back of someone’s mind when positions arise. Be friendly, put your best foot forward, and construct an elevator pitch to which anyone would be compelled to listen. Lastly, but most importantly, be yourself.
In the end, impressions are what others will remember about you. Make it good and lasting, but also be sure to show your true colors through actions. After all, showing is always more powerful and memorable than merely telling.
Added Tip: Further show them you’re committed to developing and growing by pursuing an advanced applied graduate degree.