The key, according to Amy Cuddy, is to realize that people subconsciously ask themselves one question when you first meet: "Can I trust you?"
"From an evolutionary perspective," she writes in her book Presence, "it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust."
That's why -- especially if you're meeting someone in a business or professional setting -- showing that you are skilled, experienced, or capable isn't nearly as important as showing that you are trustworthy and likable.
To make a great first impression, first show that you're someone who can build and maintain great relationships -- and make people feel better about themselves.
How do you make a great first impression in a genuine and authentic way?
1. Listen 10x more than you talk.
Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond -- not so much verbally, but nonverbally. That's all it takes to show the other person he or she is important.
Then when you do speak, don't offer advice unless you're asked. Listening shows you care a lot more than offering advice does, because when you offer advice, in most cases, you make the conversation about you.
Don't believe me? Who is "Here's what I would do ..." about: you or the other person?
Only speak when you have something important to say -- and always define important as what matters to the other person, not to you.
2. Shift the spotlight.
No one receives enough praise. No one. Whenever possible, start the conversation by telling the other person what they did well.
Not only will people appreciate your praise, they'll appreciate the fact you care enough to pay attention to what they do.
And then they'll feel a little more accomplished and a lot more important... and they'll love you for making them feel that way.
3. Give before you receive (and assume you will never receive.)
Never think about what you can get. Focus on what you can provide. Giving is the only way to establish a real connection and a real relationship.
Focus, even in part and even for a moment, on what you can get out of the other person... and you show that the only person who really matters is you.
4. Put everything else away.
Don't check your phone. Don't glance at your monitor. Don't focus on anything else, even for a moment.
You can never connect with others if you're busy connecting with your stuff, too.
Give the gift of your full attention. That's a gift few people give. That gift alone will make others want to be around you and remember you.
5. Don't be self-important.
The only people who are impressed by your stuffy, pretentious, self-important self are other stuffy, pretentious, self-important people.
The rest of us aren't impressed. We're irritated, put off, and uncomfortable.
And we hate when you walk in the room.
6. Show that other people are more important.
You already know what you know. You know your opinions. You know your perspectives and points of view.
All that isn't important because it's already yours. You can't learn anything from yourself.
But you don't know what other people know, and everyone, no matter who he or she is, knows things you don't know.
That makes other people a lot more important than you -- because you can learn from them.
7. Choose your words.
The words you use impact the attitude of others.
For example, you don't have to go to a meeting; you get to go meet with other people. You don't have to create a presentation for a new client; you get to share cool stuff with other people. You don't have to go to the gym; you get to work out and improve your health and fitness.
You don't have to interview job candidates; you get to select a great person to join your team.
We all want to associate with happy, enthusiastic, fulfilled people. The words you choose can help other people feel better about themselves -- and make you feel better about yourself, too.
8. Don't discuss the failings of others.
Granted, we all like hearing a little gossip. We all like hearing a little dirt.
The problem is, we don't necessarily like -- and we definitely don't respect -- the people who dish that dirt.
Don't laugh at other people. When you do, the people around you wonder if you sometimes laugh at them.
9. And readily admit your own failings.
Incredibly successful people are often assumed to have charisma simply because they're successful. Their success seems to create a halo effect, almost like a glow.
The key word is seem.
You don't have to be incredibly successful to make a great first impression. Scratch the shiny surface, and many successful people have all the charisma of a rock.
But you do have to be incredibly genuine to be remarkably charismatic.
Be humble. Share your screwups. Admit your mistakes. Be the cautionary tale. And laugh at yourself.
While you should never laugh at other people, you should always laugh at yourself.
People won't laugh at you. People will laugh with you.
They'll like you better for it -- and they'll want to be around you a lot more.