It's not breaking news: first impressions are important - for better or for worse. They direct how we are treated. They inform our environments of who we are. They define how we are perceived and how we will be perceived by our current and future colleagues and clients. Getting first impressions right, often means getting ahead. And, as women, that means first impressions are increasingly important, even if they are increasingly nerve-wracking. Here are our tips and tricks...
Firm Handshake: Meek, floppy or even non-existent handshakes have staying power in people's minds. Perhaps, as women in the workplace, our hands will be shaken differently (or not at all), but it's our responsibility to overcome that by greeting others with firm, confident greetings. A firm handshake sends a firm message.
Dress Your Best: While it almost goes without saying, your physical appearance has a huge impact (again, for better or worse) on how people perceive you, especially for the first time. If unkempt, wearing ill-fitting or office-inappropriate clothes, you automatically (if unintentionally) send a variety of different impressions, including: disinterested, disrespectful, disorganized, overwhelmed. Brush your hair, iron your shirts, tailor your clothes, dry clean your suits, polish your shoes, do your makeup. Of course, we want to (and should) be judged for our performance, but it's partially our own responsibility to set ourselves up to be judged solely on that work performance. Stick to the office dress code (we've broken down proper attire by industry here) and put your best foot (or shoe) forward.
Know Your Audience: Regardless of whether you're meeting the CEO of your company or your summer intern, approaching and treating everyone similarly - no matter their rank or experience - is essential. A calm, respectful energy engages and impresses most people, in both business and social settings. Of course, you'll be more nervous and feel more pressure when meeting the founder of your company than you will when you meet your colleague's new assistant, but making a conscious effort to treat both with professionalism and respect will help you calm your nerves and make a great first impression. For people you hope to impress, take a deep breath and try thinking of them as normal people, who are deserving of your respect and whom you deserve respect from in return.
Remember Names: Yes, this is more of a second impression tip, but as women who meet hundreds of new people (in both business and social settings), we will be the first to admit that remembering a new person's name - as important as it is, can be challenging. Especially, when you're meeting several new people each day. of course, you'll probably remember their faces, but it's truly embarrassing when you can't - for the life of you - remember their name when you run into them at a happy hour. Or worse, when you run into them at a happy hour, need to introduce them to your colleague, but can't because you can't remember their name. To help ourselves commit names...
- Repeat the name... During an introduction, when you're shaking the individual's name, repeat their name back to them, "It's so nice to meet you, Angela!"
- Connect online... LinkedIn is not like Facebook or Instagram, where the content shared is informal and personal. So, send the new business acquaintance an invite to a) help you further commit their name to memory, b) build your network, and c) keep in touch professionally!
- Add to contacts... While you're connecting on LinkedIn, add the new acquaintance to your contacts, including their name, position, company and any contact info you have. And while it might seem creepy, add their LinkedIn photo to their contact info - it'll help you connect names and faces while further engraining their name.
Have your own tricks to making a great first impression? Let us know!