Last week I shared 25 Habits That Always Ruin a First Impression, and the response was overwhelming. It's good that people care about what others think of them when they meet for meetings or even just networking.
Of course, just because you aren't making the mistakes in my column, doesn't mean you are creating the best first impression possible. If you want to be likeable and memorable you have to step up your game.
Here are 17 quick and easy ways to make sure that the people you meet will be impressed and want to make the most of your relationship moving forward.
1. Research the people you are going to meet.
There is a reason people go to the trouble of creating a LinkedIn Profile. They hope people will read it. If you do a simple Google search and learn about the people in the room they will appreciate not having to explain what they are all about. Just don’t cross the line into stalker territory.
2. Step up your personal appearance.
You don’t have to look like you are ready for a Great Gatsby party, but good hygiene and being fashionable shows you care about who you are and how you look. Step up your dress code one notch and watch the approvals increase.
3. Treat the people around you with respect.
People are general impressed by others who give of themselves. If you bring a friend or significant other to a gathering, go out of your way to introduce and include that person in the conversation. Ignoring them is a clear sign to other people that you are a narcissistic jerk.
4. Put your phone on silent and in your pocket.
A good conversation can easily go bad from an annoying ring, buzz or flashing light. Even holding the phone tells people you are more interested in what is happening outside rather than being present.
5. Say hello to everyone in the room.
Obviously this doesn't apply to 200 person gatherings, but when at an intimate affair, don't leave anyone out. Make a point to say hello and shake everyone's hand. The people you forget or ignore definitely notice and so do those around them.
6. Remember people's names and use them.
People love to hear their own name. I personally struggle with name memory but will uncomfortably ask again rather than keep making things awkward. Once you hear it, using it will help you lock it in your brain and make the other person feel worthy.
People do business with people they like and a smile makes you infinitely more likeable. You may be having a tough day, but there is no need to let anyone else know. Besides, smiling will actually make you feel better too.
8. Stand up straight.
People will notice if you are a leaner or a slumper. Always look relaxed but ready to go. Successful people like to connect with others who seem like doers, not slackers.
9. Look directly into the eyes of the person with whom you are speaking.
I personally have a habit of watching people's lips. First, because it helps me hear what they are saying in a crowded room. Second, because I am short and that is often where my eyes are. Still, I find I make better connections when looking eye to eye.
10. Wait for the other person to ask about you.
In networking people have a tendency to show up and throw up about themselves, their company or their product. Instead, retain a little mystery and you'll draw people in. If they are curious about you they will better receive what you have to share.
11. Be brief and to the point.
Just because what you have to say is interesting to you, doesn't mean it is interesting to anyone else. Get to your point quick and let other people ask you for more. No one wants to hang out with a droner or a rambler.
12. Ask questions about the other person.
Most worthy people avoid narcissists like the plague. You may not be one, but no one will know if you don’t show interest in others. Make it your priority to ask three questions about the other person before you tell them anything about yourself. Make sure you shut down your inner voice and listen to what they have to say.
The simplest way to stand out from a crowd of introductions is to be a lighthearted and fun person. Tell brief interesting stories or tasteful and appropriate jokes. Share fascinating and valuable insights during a conversation. As long as you don’t go overboard, people will think you are a pleasure to be around.
14. Offer to make a connection.
Most people enter an encounter hoping to further their preferred future. Help them. Connect them with truly valuable people that will allow them to grow and advance. You'll be surprised how quickly they return the favor.
15. Leave people with something of value.
There are three simple ways to accomplish this task in every encounter.
- Be a reader and learner.
- Listen for a true need.
- Share your knowledge and experience.
16. Show genuine appreciation.
People value their time more than anything. Express to them how grateful you are that they shared their time with you. After all, they can't get it back and you want them to feel it was time well spent.
17. Follow up immediately.
The easiest way to make a good first impression unmemorable is to leave it hanging. The way to make it great is to reinforce it with a follow up email or delivery of any promised items discussed. Maybe even send them a link to a useful column like this one.