Too many great people go unmet simply because of their uninteresting first impressions. Mastering our first impressions is like giving ourselves a fantastically inviting front cover. Understanding the elements that construct a first impression is a vitally important life skill that unlocks countless new life opportunities for both people involved.
Believe it or not people are judging us the second we enter the room, like in the movies when a beautiful girl enters the room, the camera slows and everyone’s attentions shifts for a moment to admire the beauty. This also happens in real life, but it’s not just about beauty, it’s about presence. People make a split second subconscious analysis of our presence when we enter. Most people are unaware of the subconscious benefits and quickly slink away to the bar to hide their insecurities and leave no impression.
Become conscious of how to enter well and we set the ball rolling, we have become a person…not just another unknown running straight for the bar. Once in the spotlight of the entry position stand proud and tall. Breathe in, observe and smoothly scan our surroundings, holding eye contact for a second with who ever happens to be looking over at the time. Then casually walk over and begin conversation with somebody in the area.
Long Distance Impressions
Even once we have made our entry impression people are still subconsciously sensitive to our long distance communications. For this reason we must strategically become conscious of what people use as markers for forming distance impressions.
Clothes, smile, style, laugh, body language and voice. If we know how to work these aspects people will subconsciously be drawn towards us. If we’re able to pull off a natural, appropriate joke with someone else that makes them break into an uncontrollable laughter almost everyone’s ears will prick up. Much like a mother has been programmed to show attention when a baby cries, when we hear the sounds of an authentic laugh we are naturally interested in what’s going on.
If we’ve got fashion sense that reflects unique confidence yet resembles similarity with the people in the room they will be more open to giving us a chance for an unbiased first impression. The people in the room will identify with us hence giving us slightly more of a chance to explain our story because we are ‘one of them’ whilst also being interested that we have the confidence to wear a little blue badge.
Body language is a powerful subconscious communicator both to ourselves and the people around us. If we stand proud, feet slightly apart and tall, we feel proud and tall. Our head and eye movements are dead give aways that set the confident apart from the socially anxious. Take it slow, breathe in, and every now and then slowly scan the room holding eye contact with people for more than a second if they peer over at us. If we hunch over and have our backs to multiple groups of people we feel and appear small and insignificant.
We of course must be able to find a balance here, especially if it’s our first time in a well established group. Walking around like a king is just going to get everyone hating. We are quick at making presumptions about people and slow to change so we must play the game with sensitivity if we want to be heard. Authentically confident looking people however generally transmit good impressions.
Ok this is it, we have met someone we find interesting and we have about 30 seconds to show our cards and this doesn’t mean busting out a quick list of our accomplishments, it’s quite the opposite. We never open talking about ourselves. The other person has no respect for us and does not want to meet another self-absorbed person. First step is to show interest in the other person, if they like the way we convey our question they will naturally question back. This is the first green light, now we have permission to show one of our most relevant cards. Keep in mind the first green light is weak and dimly lit, simply allowing us to slip one of two items past their attention span so we need to make it good.
Having a relaxed yet confident small story about our life is a great way to get the ball rolling as this will probably be one of the first questions we will get. Why are you here? It is important we try to take what ever small piece of information they have already given us and re-bundle it into a personal story or life situation that relates most to that person! This does not mean lying to the person, it means drawing on our own personal experience and funneling nothing but relevant information to them. This guarantees an active interest and a sense of mutual connection. The focus is always on the new person.
Once we have gained their respect we are given permission for more attention in which we can then start to discuss ideas, dreams and perspectives. If we have something we’re proud of, try asking them the question we want to be asked. This provides for juicy content we can use our own experience discussing or if the other person has no experience with our field they will most probably ask what we know about it. Always search for common ground on first encounters. Do not start trying to teach them something we know better than them, just uncover similar ground and have fun.
Once we’re sure the other person shares similar common ground and we have good relations with them, instigate the break away. First impressions are supposed to be short and sweet so don’t drag them out until we’re totally dry of conversation. Quit while we’re ahead, write our number on a napkin or exchange a business card if we feel their might be potential for future connection.
The Follow Up
If we discussed any interesting topics in the night, discussed a ted talk or book be sure to follow up the next day with more information on what was discussed. Wait for their response in order to uncover their lasting impression. If they reply with a “thanks”, then they are probably not the person for us. If they replied with interest it’s a sign that we have a positive match. Set the next coffee date in a cool bar we know of and the rest is history.