We are taught not to judge a book by its cover but in this fast paced world we increasingly rely on surface evaluations to judge individuals. That’s why we have to get it right from the start. So how do we create a winning professional formula guaranteed to leave a lasting, positive impact on others?
Research tells us that we have 7 seconds to shape someone’s impression of us. It takes 3 times as long for someone to change their initial impression. So essentially we have less than a minute in which others are formulating a lasting impression of our self-confidence and credibility.
This is the moment we make our indelible mark in a meeting. Such is the power of first impressions.
Here are my top six tips for making a great start:
Have an objective
- Know what you want to get out of the meeting before you walk in the door.
- You need to be clear about the message you want to send.
- Think about how you want them to feel during and after the meeting.
- Visualize the outcome before the meeting starts.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
- Never go into a meeting unprepared, even if it is in a casual setting.
- People looking to hire expect you to know the ends and outs of the company and the job description.
- If possible, know something about the person interviewing you, it shows you care.
- Good preparation often leads to a high level of confidence. Confidence can get you a long way in the interview process.
Know Your story
- Talk about aspects of your life experience that can be related to the position you’re applying for. Also, talk about things that make you a stand out individual.
- Make sure that your values and beliefs are in alignment with the company you’re interviewing with. If they don’t, in the long run you may be wasting your time.
- Remember: if you think of your interview as a conversation, your stories will be more fluid and sound more interesting.
What is the context of your meeting?
- Where you meet will often dictate the tone of your conversation. Is it relaxed or more rigid?
- You will dress differently for a meeting in a coffee bar than you would for an office or even a hotel lobby.
- You will also feel more relaxed in a coffee bar but don’t be tempted to lose focus. You still need to be on your toes no matter where the meeting happens.
Profile and Presence
- Obviously, the first thing people notice about you is your physical appearance. Your image is like your logo. Your visual impact has a vast influence over the first impressions you make on others.
- Make sure you look your best and are appropriately dressed to reflect the environment.
- Arrive at the least 5-10 minutes early to settle yourself and make a visit to the bathroom to look in the mirror and loosen up your jaw. The mirror never lies!
- Take a few deep breaths before you go in the room and remember to stand tall.
- Great Eye contact and a firm hand shake are the best tools to establish your presence in the room. Make them count.
- Speak in a clear voice and don’t rush your speech and think before you open your mouth.
- Mirror your interviewer’s body language to make them feel comfortable; don’t fidget.
- People in the position to hire and promote individuals are one and half times more likely to place well dressed individuals in the line of success than those who are poorly dressed.
- Dressing well gives others the impact of confidence, trust and success.
Be an Active Listener
- Listen carefully and observe both the interviewer and your surroundings. Remember to ask logical follow-up questions.
- Make time to do a practice interview and film it on your phone. Watch it back so you can see exactly what you first impression looks like.