Human beings are animals that are built to size each other up quickly. No matter the amount of evidence that is presented later, our first impression is often hard to overcome. You should be acutely aware of the impression that you make on others.
“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” says James Uleman, PhD, a psychology professor at New York University and researcher on impression management. “In spite of the congeniality of many professional gatherings, judgments are being made and impressions formed all the time.” (http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2012/11/first-impressions.aspx)
- Know your audience—when you are going to a professional networking event, a conference, or even a meeting at work with people from a new office, understand as much as you can about the individuals ahead of time. Most institutions, professional societies/chapters, and LinkedIn have an intranet with a directory and biographies about each employee; study up before your next meeting!
- ‘Fake it, until you make it’—be confident and optimistic at every interaction and do not let your anxiety show. Speak slowly and calmly throughout the meeting and be sure to make eye contact with each person in the room.
- Grace, dignity and poise—field all questions with the skill and reflection of a queen negotiating with Kim Jong-un; do not get defensive or arrogant.
- Practice active listening—listening to others talk about themselves is an important skill, be able to respond with something meaningful and fitting.
- Dress for the battle—from the age of time our attire has been an important societal factor, it’s just a fact of life. When you feel and look good, you will be more confident in yourself. Pick your wardrobe carefully and fill it with classic professional attire.