5 ways to make a great first impression, every time.

You have one chance and seven seconds to make a first impression. You better make it count.

Some experts believe it’s way less – about one tenth of a second.

Either way, that’s an extremely short window of opportunity to make the most of each new encounter. Because once that first impression’s made it’s almost impossible to change. As it turns out we're prone to judging a book by its cover, relying on gut and intuition in those first critical moments, and where time is of the essence. 

Think about that the next time you meet someone new – be it at an event, a job interview or your local shops. You never know where the next potential customer, client, boss or referral will come from.  

Like it or not, you are constantly selling yourself, your ideas, your message and value and how you interact with others may or may not be consistent with the story you wish to convey so get clear on your message to make your connections - and seconds - count. 

Here are 5 ways to make a great first impression, every time:

1. Be genuine

Most people come with an inbuilt BS sensor allowing them to detect a pretentious, or self-serving exchange from a mile away. Don't pretend to care if you don't, don't be someone and something you’re not. Authenticity stems from knowing yourself and what you have to offer. Be yourself, be at ease and you'll give others permission to do the same.

2. Smile like you mean it

A simple smile is one of the most underutilised and powerful gestures you have at your disposal. The humble smile can completely transform someone's physiology and psychology, including your own. It can break down barriers, invite strangers in, and allow those around you to feel welcome and included. Practice engaging others with your smile.

3. Be positive and well-mannered

We're naturally drawn to people who are enthusiastic, passionate and have a positive outlook on life. Don't forget your manners. Basic etiquette might seem old-fashioned, particularly as more of us spend our lives behind a keyboard, but it's character revealing nonetheless. Good manners shows consideration, care and respect for the person opposite you. When you give good, you often get good in return.

4. Own your space and style

Develop your personal style by exploring your options, finding what works for you and expressing yourself appropriately for your environment. Consider the persona and brand you are presenting to the world. Dress for the job you want, be memorable without being a slave to labels and trends.

5. Listen with intent

Be curious about the person next to you and what makes them tick. Give them your undivided attention and let them talk. Don't get caught up in your own story or inadequacies, or how you'll respond, or what you might be missing around you. Listen with the intent to understand and you'll get insights into how you can be of true service. You can only be helpful when you've heard and been heard.  

Master the basics and you will master the fine art of great first impressions. (Of course, then there's the follow through.)

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