How to Make a Positive First Impression — Always

February 5, 2019


Bubble with the word "hello"

There are many things in life we cannot control. For example, we can’t control the traffic on our way to work or the weather on our wedding day or even someone else’s happiness. We simply must adapt and go with the flow.

On the flip side, there are many things we can control, which may put us in the driver’s seat for success. Among the top things in life we have control over is making a positive first impression.

Making a great first impression matters a lot, especially if you’re interviewing for a job, making a sales pitch, and wanting to succeed in your career. As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” If that’s not enough to make you nervous, studies suggest it takes less than 30 seconds for others to evaluate you and form an opinion.

First impressions have the power to dictate careers. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help make a positive first impression, always.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

Follow these 12 foundational positive first impression tips to establishing great relationships and career success. When you take time to practice and maintain good people skills, you’ll build your confidence and relationships, which will lead to a better you!

  1. Smile  A smile speaks immediately to your poise, confidence, and professionalism.  Your smile shows you’re happy to meet others and conveys warmth that words alone cannot express. A warm smile is an essential start to making a great impression.

  2. Give a Firm Handshake – When meeting a person for the first time, a firm handshake coupled with good eye contact will speak to your professionalism and respect.

  3. Remember Names – Remembering names is an important skill on many levels. It not only makes a person feel good to hear their name, it shows you’re listening and that the person you’re meeting matters to you.

  4. Dress Appropriately – Dressing professionally says you take your job seriously and respect your organization as well as those with whom you work. Dressing for the job also communicates your level of professionalism, confidence, and credibility. According to a Harris Poll Study conducted for Career Builder, 55 percent of another person’s perception of you is based on how you lookand 75 percent of executives believe how you dress for work affects your job, salary, and possible promotions.

  5. Be on Time – Arriving late for a business meeting or lunch without letting them know you’re running behind is rude and doesn’t leave a favorable impression. Everyone’s time is valuable. Punctuality or arriving early shows preparedness and respect.

  6. Common Courtesies – When meeting someone, no matter their stature, saying "Please, "Thank you," and "You're welcome" will go a long way in showing your character and creating that great first impression.

  7. Make Eye Contact – When talking and listening, look someone in the eye. This conveys confidence and interest in what they have to say. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it, appearing as if you’re staring. Take breaks and be natural when making eye contact.

  8. Make Small Talk – The ability to make small talk with others exhibits confidence and kindness. It helps others relax, engages others in conversation, and builds rapport.

  9. Avoid Filler Words – Using filler words or phrases such as “um,” “like,” and “you know” can make you look less professional. People don’t realize how often they’re using these words. A proven way to help eradicate unnecessary filler words is to take a pause before speaking. This will help you gather your thoughts, be more mindful of the words you use, and appear more professional.

  10. Watch Your Body Language – Your body language “speaks” volumes and can easily reflect your confidence or nervousness. A study by Albert Mehrabian says, “We overwhelmingly deduce our feelings, attitudes, and beliefs about what someone says not by the actual words spoken, but by the person’s body language and tone of voice.” Pay attention to your posture and avoid crossing your arms when conversing. Speak clearly and avoid talking too softly or too loudly.

  11. Attitude is Everything – Everyone likes to meet people with a pleasant attitude. Your technical abilities are important, but it’s your attitude and good humor that will make you shine.

  12. Be Yourself – This is one of the most important elements in making a lasting impression. No one likes a phony. Embrace you, because everyone appreciates honesty and character.

About the Author: Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs is an empowering professional development consultant, dynamic motivational speaker, and author. Highly dedicated and results-oriented, she has the skill and passion for helping individuals become more confident and successful in business and beyond. She and her company, Polished, help clients focus on key adjustments that result in meaningful impact and effectiveness.

Join the Conversation

Welcome to the ASAP Circle, a community platform for peer-to-peer conversation on trending topics, professional challenges, and shared experiences. We even have designated spaces for weekly Tuesday Coffee Breaks.

Start Connecting Today!

American Society of Administrative Professionals

Producer of

APC  EA Ignite