According to Forbes magazine, we have seven seconds to make a good first impression. That’s little time to make a big impact. Here are a few tips, straight from Dawn Jumper’s “Hello! Now What?” National FFA Convention & Expo student workshop, to help you master your next first impression.
The first tip is simple: Always stand for an introduction. Standing up to meet your new acquaintance shows that you are interested in making a connection and that you respect that person. There are going to be situations where standing isn’t always the most convenient approach, so make sure to engage the other person by making an effort to lean toward them and encourage them with other positive forms of body language.
Since 11 major decisions are made during those first seven seconds, it’s important to focus on your appearance. Do you look approachable, trustworthy and confident? These are some key factors your new acquaintance will decide immediately after meeting you. Good posture is a huge influence in your overall appearance, so make sure to stand tall and pull those shoulders back.
A smile is a universal welcome; bring it with you for your next meeting. Smiles have the power to ease tense situations. Imagine making eye contact with someone, but they didn’t bother to change their expression from a frown. It doesn’t make for the most comfortable situation. Avoid an awkward intro and turn that frown upside down.
Along with a smile, making eye contact is key to a successful greeting. Eye contact says more than just “I’m paying attention.” Confidence, control and sincerity can all be conveyed just by making sure to look at who you’re speaking to.
Speak clearly in a confident voice. Not only is it difficult to hear someone who is quiet as a mouse, it also conveys a lack of confidence and even interest in who you’re talking to.
One of the easiest ways to be remembered in a bad way is a poor handshake. Avoid the limp “dead fish” approach and steer clear of a vice-grip-inspired shake. Leave it at two pumps and remember to shake from the elbow, not the wrist.
Lastly, but most importantly, remember to introduce yourself. Especially if it’s a professional contact, having a name and a little bit of background information could make a huge difference in being remembered. Be straight and to the point; talking too much right away could distract from being respectable to your new contact.
Hannah Kleckner is an agriculture sciences major at Penn State. Originally from Annville, Pa., Hannah was a member of the Little Dutchmen FFA Chapter but now serves as a member of the Penn State Collegiate FFA.