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September 21, 2016

How to Make a Good First Impression

How to make a good first impression
‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ as the old saying goes. In this article we’ll look at how to make sure that you make a good first impression on a US colleague.

The key is for the person you’re meeting to feel that they would enjoy and value working with you. Coming across as a relaxed, confident colleague will help them to relax and be confident with you, making all of your interactions both easier and also more productive.

Let’s take a look at the key elements of coming across as relaxed and confident..

1.            Dress Appropriately
Before you leave for a meeting make sure that you are dressed appropriately. This will vary by industry and location but generally appropriate dress in corporate settings is a business suit.

If you’re unsure what to wear choose the more formal of the options that you are considering. Overdressing is not something that you can be criticised for, whereas underdressing is.

This article contains a good guide in case if you’re unsure.

2.            Be On Time
Being on time says that you are well organised and value the time of the person you are meeting. Aim to arrive a few minutes early for your appointment. Arriving early also gives you time to gather your thoughts so that you are relaxed before the meeting starts.

Turning up late, whatever the reason, is always a bad way to start. Plan for unexpected delays and allow a little extra time for your journey.

3. Smile, Shake Their Hand Firmly And Look Them In The Eye
The way that you introduce yourself to someone is key. You want them to be relaxed, confident and open. The best way to do this when greeting someone is to smile, shake their hand firmly (but not too firmly!) and to look them in the eye.

Some people find that shaking someone’s hand firmly and looking them in the eye feels confrontational. It is important to remember that it isn’t viewed as such. In the US relaxed, confident people will naturally do this when introducing themselves and so they expect others to introduce themselves in the same way.

4. Body Language
How you say something is often much more important that what you say. This has been proven in multiple studies, so you need to take care with your body language.

Relaxed, confident people are open and engaged, they are not tense, and their body language will naturally follows this. This means you should try to speak and move relatively slowly. Rushing makes you appear tense or stressed. Similarly, avoid any body language that is ‘closed’ and makes you appear as if you are hiding or trying to shrink the space (for example, folding your arms, hunching your shoulders), that you are taking up. Put your shoulders back and smile.

Finally don’t play with things (Eg hair, notebooks, pens etc).

If you need more tips on body language and confidence this article contains some useful tips.

Small Talk
The last point on this list is expect to make some small talk. When you are meeting someone for the first time your aim is to try to make a connection with them, and you can’t do that without getting them to relax.

Small talk is important as a way to build a bond with someone so don’t try to rush it.

To get the conversation started don’t worry about having something complicated or clever to say. A simple question about how someone’s weekend was if it is a Monday or Tuesday or a comment on a local news item or the weather is all you need to get things going. 

So there you have it. The basics of making a good first impression on a US colleague. It goes without saying that you will need to be well prepared for the meeting. This is just how to get things started correctly.

This is a guest post written by Ben Richardson. Ben Richardson is the managing director of Acuity Training, a UK based personal development and IT training provider.


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Note: Authentic Journeys features Ben's article on the blog, but is not connected with Acuity Training. To learn more about their services, click through to their website.

Updated: May 2018

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We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.