There are several ways to make a great first impression on someone you just met. Here are five proven strategies to get you started.
1. Be curious.
Want to be the most interesting person in the room? In a previous article, I offered seven questions a person can ask to ignite a captivating conversation. But for that scenario to happen, curiosity is the social prerequisite. Albert Einstein famously said, "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." Perhaps there's an Einstein in all of us.
2. Ask: "What's your story?"
When meeting someone for the first time, forget the typical questions like "What do you do?" and "Where are you from?" Asking "What's your story?" will take the other person by surprise. It's open-ended enough to trigger an intriguing story--a journey to a foreign country, meeting a famous person, a special talent used for making the world a better place, etc. It's also a question that immediately draws in the other person and lets him or her speak from the heart.
3. Be intentional about learning from the other person.
The best conversations in life are initiated by wanting to learn about what other people do: how they do it and why they do it. You will benefit from asking, and the other person will appreciate the gesture and pay it forward. To take it to another level, seek out someone younger and less experienced who brings real value to your work or life in an area unfamiliar to you, and learn from that person. This will garner an immediate and positive first impression.
4. Follow through.
To make a good connection with someone new in your personal or professional circle, offering to help the other person is certainly a good strategy for a positive first impression. However, only a small percentage of people actually deliver on their promises. People will value your connection even more when you actually provide what you've suggested: a contact, a resource, a referral, or some coaching. When you do, the law of reciprocity kicks in and you'll benefit from that new relationship.
5. Listen before you speak.
Want to create a great first impression? Let the other person speak without interruption. Let's be honest: How often do you find yourself trying hard to avoid jumping in and finishing someone else's sentence? You see, magic happens in a conversation when active listening takes place. This is being content to listen to the entire thought of someone rather than waiting impatiently for your chance to respond. That's when both parties know real listening is taking place. When you speak to other people today, eliminate your distractions in the moment. Then give the speaker your full attention. What you're communicating nonverbally is "I am interested in what you have to say."