We’ve all heard the saying “first impressions are everything,” and in business this couldn’t be more true. According to multiple psychology studies, first impressions are often made within the first seven seconds of meeting.
To make a strong first impression, just follow these simple steps:
Dress for the position you want. When in doubt, always dress more conservatively. You never see a powerful CEO in anything too revealing… chances are he or she got there by dressing in a respectful manner. An outfit with visible cleavage should be left for your social life. For more formal business interviews or meetings, close toed heels or pumps are recommended. Iron everything and lay out your outfit the night before. Dresses and skirts should not be more than 1.5 inches above the knee and stockings are a good choice in a formal environment. Be careful not to over do it on the body fragrance, makeup and statement jewelry…you do not want what you wore to be remembered over your skill set.
Body language. Good body language can signal you are both attentive and engaging. Never cross your arms— it’s a sign you are closed off for communication. Practice great posture by rolling your shoulders back, sitting and standing straight up and lifting your chin slightly so you appear confident and alert. If you cross your legs when sitting, be sure to cross at the ankle and keep knees together— it prevents revealing too much and will stop nervous bouncing of the leg.
Smile when entering room. A smile when entering any room implies you are happy to be there, approachable and friendly… three great qualities to have in any employee.
Make eye contact. Never look down or to the side when meeting someone… it may imply you are distrustful or lacking self esteem. Keep your eyes locked with the person you are in a conversation with, whether you are speaking or listening.
Handshake. Getting the perfect handshake right is easy and can leave a lasting impression of professionalism. When you put out your hand for a greeting, make sure the web in between your forefinger and thumb connects with theirs. Ensure your handshake is firm but not too aggressive. Try this when you enter the meeting and again when you leave the room. A great handshake says you mean business, is a sign of respect and shows you are authoritative and professionally polished!
–Myka Meier, Etiquette Expert