5 Tips to Ensure You Make a Great First Impression:
1. Maintain your Poise – Projecting a poised, reassuring image is easily learned but quickly lost. Poise, defined by Merriam-Webster as “an easy self-possessed assurance of manner,” is the essence of putting individuals at ease when they are in your company. Poise comes from being authentic and comfortable with your own personality and it is the foundation for all of the business social skills.
2. Introduce Yourself – When entering into a meeting or a meal situation, make sure you have greeted the participants and introduced yourself before you sit down, so there is no mystery about who you are.
3. Establish Eye Contact – Ah yes, the eyes—the windows to the soul. Revealing as it is, eye contact can be one of the most powerful techniques for using poise to build your brand—as long as you follow proper etiquette. I remember my mother telling me, when I was a young girl, to stop staring at people when I was in church. Knowing how to keep your eyes in check is essential. Keep in mind the “business zone”—at the eyebrow level.
4. Handshake – I promise, it is no accident that the U.S. president always has a picture taken while shaking hands with a foreign dignitary. The handshake and body language in these situations sometimes provide insight into or even define the relationship. Never underestimate a handshake; it can define your personal brand. A proper handshake requires facing shoulder to shoulder, with hand open and thumb extended upward for a true open palm. You meet palm to palm with the other person, giving a couple of pumps up and down, and keeping your elbows in—and that should do the job. When a handshake is weak, turned sideways, or even omitted, it sends a signal to the other person. It may represent a lack of confidence or being timid. Men especially are sometimes scared to firmly grasp a female’s hand to shake. I assure you, it is appropriate in a business setting (so long as it’s not a bone crusher!).
5. Appearance matters – Like it or not, appearances sway others and their perceptions, so you need to manage how the impression you make affects your personal brand in the workplace and in the rest of your life. In business and social settings, how you affect the five senses of the people you meet has a dramatic effect on how they perceive your brand. Early studies conclude that 93 percent of your communication is nonverbal. This clearly demonstrates the importance of appearance in defining your personal brand.