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Candidate Help & Advice

5 Tips to Make the Right 1st Impression

Body Language photo from ShutterstockNo matter what you are doing, as an entrepreneur, you are networking for the company you created. For that reason, you have to learn how to make a good first impression. You never know when the person you are talking to will be your next client or your next major contract.

Here are five tips you can use to improve the first impressions you make on the people around you, so you will be well prepared for whomever life sends your way.

1. Learn Proper Body Language

Did you know that the first 10 seconds of a meeting is when people decide most of their opinions about you? You may not even open your mouth to say “hi” before they have made assumptions about you subconsciously. What are they using for these assumptions? In most instances it is entirely based on body language.

Your body language shows your confidence and approachable attitude. It starts with the way you enter the room. If you enter too enthusiastically, people may feel afraid of you or assume you are working too hard to push your business. Instead, enter pleasantly, then claim a space by planting your feet six to eight inches apart, with one slightly in front of the other. This is a calm, yet confident, stance. Don’t forget to stand tall, because slouching shows a lack of confidence.

When you meet someone, offer a smile. Maintain eye contact for most of the time, but take breaks for about 15 percent of the conversation to avoid making your listener uncomfortable.

Be prepared with a firm handshake, and lean slightly toward the person you are talking to so that you appear interested and approachable. Throughout the conversation, maintain a confident stance and a smile to ensure that you create the right overall impression.

2. Know What to Say

As an entrepreneur, you need a verbal business card that will introduce who you are and what you have to offer. Prepare this speech in advance, and practice it on friends, family or co-workers until it is second nature. You do not want to be fumbling over what to say when you meet someone.

After you’ve given this so-called elevator speech, you need to forget about yourself and your business. Take the time to hear what the other person is saying. Never talk for longer than a minute, as it appears you are trying to hog the conversation.

Throughout the conversation, find a way to squeeze in an appreciative remark. Showing appreciation will give the other person a positive feeling to hold on to when they think about you in the future. Make sure it is sincere, but find a way to give something positive to the other person.

3. Slow Down Your Conversation

Entrepreneurs tend to be bright individuals. You have to be in order to make a success out of a business! Yet study after study has shown that bright people tend to talk more quickly than others. This may be because they are thinking so quickly that their mouths can hardly keep up with their ideas.

In order to reach the average person, you will have to learn to slow down. Practice speaking at a slower pace until it becomes natural.

The average person enjoys listening to someone who talks at about 145 words a minute. Read out loud from a magazine for one minute, then count how many words you spoke. This will show you approximately how fast your normal speech is, so you can make adjustments.

4. Watch Your Tone of Voice

In addition to the pace of your voice, you also have to watch the tone of your voice.

Your voice should sound enthusiastic and excited, without being too powerful. Speak at a normal volume that is not too quiet, and avoid talking in a monotone.

If you are not sure how your tone of voice sounds, record yourself and listen to the recording. See if you sound like someone people can and should trust. Remember, if people are put off by the tone of your voice, they will not stop to listen to your actual words.

5. Dress the Part

Finally, your outfit, including your accessories, makeup and hair, are part of your first impression. You need to dress like a professional to gain the respect of those you are talking to. Make sure your clothing is professional, well-kept, in style and not too flashy. Don’t neglect to consider the impact your jewelry, watch, bag or even your coat makes on those who are approaching you in public.

If you are not into fashion yourself, ask your friends or family for their opinions. Pull out your favorite outfits, and see what they have to say about them. You can often get great pointers about what you should, and should not, be wearing if you get a second opinion.

Does this seem like a lot of work to put into a few seconds of time?

Yes, it may be, but as the old adage says, you don’t get a second chance to make that first impression. Make sure it is a good one, and reap the rewards through better business dealings