2011-10-27 / Features

How To Make A Great First Impression

First impressions can last a long time, if not forever!

So whether you’re interviewing for a big job, having lunch with soon-to-be inlaws or simply meeting people at a party, the initial gettogether can be crucial.

“There’s no need to stress about first impressions. Relax and just be yourself,” says Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of the new book, “The 11 Laws of Likability,” and founder and CEO of Executive Essentials. “The first dialogue with an important new contact can be as easy, enjoyable and fulfilling as a conversation with old friends.”

To help people stop stressing over potential social pitfalls, Lederman offers several key tips for social situations.

Be curious

Break the ice in any social situation by asking openended questions. Most people love to talk about themselves, so don’t hesitate to rely on the tried and true, “What do you do?” Hobbies, interests, and goals are terrific topics that engage people. Be sure to pay attention so you can ask follow-up questions that show you’ve been listening.

Probe with curiosity, but don’t interrogate. If you hit a brick wall, don’t panic. Simply change the conversation. “ Your goal is to uncover what you might have in common and what value you might bring to that person,” stresses Lederman, who is also a faculty member of the American Management Association.

Be likable

The best interactions we have are with the people we genuinely care for, and people like to do business and build relationships with people they like. To be liked, figure out what makes you uniquely likable and put forth a sincere positive energy when meeting someone for the first time.

Likewise, discover what you like about the person with whom you’re talking. They won’t always be apparent, but in the face of differences, find commonalities. Focus on parallel life experiences and shared feelings. Happier, more comfortable relationships will be your result.

Be yourself

“There’s no need to fake it,” says Lederman. “The real you is the best you, and it’s the most powerful tool for forming real connections.”

There is no “right” way to interact with new people. Everyone has his or her own style. So show your authentic self and people should respond in kind, laying the bedrock for mutual understanding.

Don’t plaster on a fake smile. Even when talking to someone unpleasant, you usually can find something you admire about the person. Concentrate on positives and your conversation will transform for the better.

More tips on making a winning first impression can be found in the book “The 11 Laws of Likability,” published by AMACOM Books, or at www.michelletillislederman.com.

Meeting new people is not always easy but with a positive attitude and a genuine smile you can make those first seconds count in your favor.

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