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1 Creating a good first impression

It is normal to feel anxious about meeting people for the first time, but first impressions are important and they are made in a matter of seconds. You can help to reduce your anxiety on these occasions by being well prepared and self-aware.

The following tips are based around a blog by Knight (2019) for the Harvard Business Review Ascend platform.

Box 1 Tips for making a good first impression

  • Prepare talking points – do some homework. Know who you’re meeting, what they care about and what they want from you. Look at their LinkedIn profile or company website.
  • Be aware of your body language – take long strides. Sit up straight. Walk with your chest held high. Smile and make eye contact.
  • Play to your strengths – ask trusted friends and colleagues what they see as your strengths or the most likable things about you, and then try to emphasise those things when you’re meeting someone new. (You’ll consider this in more detail later this week when creating an elevator pitch.)
  • Find something in common – the goal is to create a connection on a human level and small talk is a great way to build rapport. That could be local transport, the weather or the amazing building you are in, for example. If you’re at an event, you could talk about the workshops or presentations you’ve attended.
  • Engage and be engaging – don’t try to impress the other person with your knowledge. Listen to them, ask them about themselves.
  • Follow up – write a note of appreciation showing what you learned from your conversation. Share a tweet or blog that they’ve written via your own social media.
Knight (2019)

In an interview situation, rapport building can start from the moment you walk into the room. Some of the other advice Knight gives, such as being well prepared, playing to your strengths and being engaging, will also be very relevant to the interview process.

The next few sections will look at some other important elements of a first impression you should consider, starting with the handshake.