Musings of a Museum Fanatic: How to Make a Good First Impression

10.18.2019

How to Make a Good First Impression

A couple of weeks ago I was at a professional conference. It was a lot of fun. I had been to this one before so I was feeling much more comfortable with the subject matter and actually knew people from previous conferences. There were a few times where I was thinking about the impression that some of the vendors and other conference goers were giving off to me and others. So I thought I’d compile some tips of what I think making a good impression is. What do you think makes a good impression when you first meet people?


Smile

I feel like this one is maybe one of the most important things you can do to make a good impression. If you have a dour look on your face and don’t look like you care or want to be around the person you’re meeting then you’re not going make a good impression. In fact there is a good chance that the person you’re meeting will remember you for all the wrong reasons! Trust me I know someone who never approaches anyone with any warmth or a smile and people always ask me later if this person is always so cold and rude.

Plus smiling has some benefits for you as well. Smiling can help reduce your stress. I’m not sure about anyone else but I’m always feeling nervous and stressed when I am meeting new people. I’ve found a deep breath and a smile makes the knot in my stomach start to dissipate.

Make eye contact

People can really tell a lot from your eye contact. I’ve found that I can really tell when someone doesn’t want to be around me or doesn’t have enough respect to focus on me by their eye contact. Some people are just the type who are always looking for that next conversation and you can just tell. Take time to really focus on the person who is taking some time to talk to you. Now granted I’m American so eye contact is an important thing here. I know that in some other places it’s not appropriate.

Handshake

Make sure to have a good solid handshake. Don’t crush the person’s fingers or anything but don’t be a limp fish either. I seem to be shaking a lot of hands the past couple of years and I’ve discovered that the people who really are interested in talking to me and make a connection show it through their nice, solid handshake. So I’ve tried to convey that as well. I feel that it shows in a physical manner your excitement to meet them as well as your focus on meeting them.

Remember their name

This is something I know I am terrible at!! A lot of times people say their name really softly and I miss it or you meet several people in the group and they get all jumbled. A lot of people suggest repeating it back to them. Like “Hi Tom, great to meet you. I’m Betsy.” Instead of just saying “I’m Betsy” I’m working on this tip actively so I'll be giving the repeating their name back trick a try. 

Speak up

I mentioned this is last tip but be sure people can hear you. If you’re at a conference there is the good possibility that you’re in an area with lots of people talking all around you. You could be out and about too with all sorts of noise. Pretty sure my hearing after years of concerts out isn’t as good as it was before so I find it difficult to hear people clearly sometimes. I always appreciate people who talk with a strong, clear voice. I work hard to make sure I give people the same courtesy. Although don’t pull a Kevin and get really loud when you’re talking. He’s working on that!

Business Cards

Business cards seem to be going the way of the dodo lately but I think that they make a huge difference. These days in a world where most job postings get probably a hundred applicants we all realize it's about who you know when you're trying to build business or getting a new job. You can't connect with those people you know if you don't have their information to connect after your meeting. Plus with all the fun designs you can really take the opportunity to stand out in people's mind too. 

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