Whether you're pitching your startup to investors, interviewing for a job, or meeting your significant other's parents, first impressions can be tough.

1. When you're likable, people will like you back.

When you first meet someone, don't take their time for granted. An easy way to show appreciation is by saying "please" and "thank you" as often as you can.

I know it sounds simple, but being polite truly does leave a lasting good impression.

Being nice comes from your words just as much as it comes from your body language. Something as simple as smiling when you talk or engaging with your eyes in a way that shows interest can go a long way.

2. Know the difference between being cocky and confident.

People are drawn to confidence, and your secure sense of self will definitely leave a good impression on anyone you speak to. But being cocky is not cute.

When you act over-confident, it looks like you're overcompensating in a way that often implies insecurity. It can also be obnoxious, especially when first meeting someone.

There's a thin line between being assertive and being arrogant.

In an interview, for example, stay on the right side of the line by speaking highly of yourself without bragging. When demonstrating how good you are in a crisis, don't approach the conversation by boasting about how you can handle any task, no matter how challenging.

Instead, stay humble and let your audience know how much you thrive given an opportunity to do so. Remember, self-aware people know what they don't know--and willingly admit it.

3. Good banter goes a long way (and so do compliments).

The easiest way to make a connection when first meeting someone is by bonding over humor.

Laughing at someone's joke, or making someone else laugh, can be an excellent way to leave a good impression.

However, while light-hearted humor and rhythmic conversations can let people know that you feel comfortable, be careful not to take it too far.

Are you joking about religion or politics the first time you meet someone? If so, you're taking it too far.

And if good banter isn't your strong suit, don't force it. Stick with the small stuff, like offering a simple compliment.

When first meeting someone, don't compliment something intimate, like the shape of their neck (sounds awkward, doesn't it?). Instead, let them know how the color they are wearing looks good on them, or that you love the venue they chose to you meet at.  

Compliments can get confusing--and even offensive--so make sure yours is neutral.

4. Be positive and personable.

When you first meet someone, you want to be engaging and charming. This starts with a meaningful "hello" and ends with a pleasant "goodbye."

We've all heard about how influential a handshake can be.

Something that is extremely relatable but often overlooked is being positive. When you bring that energy into the conversation, you will leave the other party feeling positive, too.

As Maya Angelou famously said, "People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

5. Just be yourself.

This is probably the most important one, because nobody likes a phony.

When you meet someone for the first time and you want to make a good impression, be yourself.

Everyone is unique, and if you want to stand out, you should be, too. This means being true to who you are, regardless of your quirks and eccentricities.

Remember, you can care about what people think of you and simultaneously not worry about being judged. Feeling comfortable in your own skin will help you concentrate on the task at hand.

If you want to make a good first impression, don't be afraid to let the other person get a chance to know you.

Published on: Nov 16, 2017