“There’s no second chance to make a first impression”. This is important advice to remember for any new internship or new job. You need to project your best self in every possible way, so follow the tips below to create a lasting and favorable impression.
First Impression Basics
Making a good first impression is about projecting a positive image, self-assuredness, and poise. The points below provide guidance on behaviors that are within your control, and will help you stand out.
• Present a professional appearance all the time. Always look “put together”. This means not only dressing for success, but also grooming and accessorizing yourself appropriately. The right hairstyle, the right make-up, suitable jewelry, watch, shoes, bags– all matter in looking the part. Unlike Silicon Valley, Wall Street and the financial industry dress conservatively, so avoid trendy fashion statements. Although suits aren’t always necessary, a jacket can help give you some finish and authority. Fit is critical, and should be sleek and close but not tight. Remember to apply the same care for your appearance in after-hours activities and events, too.
Studies indicate that the right wardrobe may raise your confidence level, affect how others perceive you, and even boost your l abstract thinking capabilities, so make wise choices.
• Be confident. Research claims that confidence is the personality trait most responsible for your ability to deal well with organizational challenges and transitions. So how do you make others think you know what you’re doing even when you’re not sure? Think of a past success that filled you with pride and achievement and recall that emotion. Then, chin up, shoulders backs and present that feeling of control in all situations.
• Posture matters. Did you know that studies show that people are more often influenced by how they feel about you than what you’re saying? An easy way to project your strength is through your posture – strong and straight. Posture counts both when you stand and when you are seated. Excellent posture will increase your feeling of power, help you feel more sure of yourself and project more confidence.
• Control your body language. Have you ever thought of yourself as a “silent orchestra”? You are constantly sending signals with your body movements, facial expressions, hand gestures, tone of voice and loudness of your speech. Fidgeting and other unconscious movements may transmit anxiety or boredom. Crossing your arms or legs and leaning back in your chair can give the impression of lack of interest or a closed mind to new ideas. Be self-aware to ensure you are sending the right messages.
• No limp handshakes. Nothing indicates a lack of confidence or discomfort more than a “dead-fish” handshake. An assertive, but not painful, grip is a necessity, so give your handshake the attention it deserves. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to make eye contact, smile, and say hello whenever you shake hands.
• Smile and laugh. A smile is the best way to diffuse tension, put others and ease, and show your interest. Get in the habit of smiling every time you meet someone. And remember to laugh when appropriate, but don’t overdo it. Loud or inappropriate laughter makes an impression, but is not the way you want to be remembered.
The Bell Leadership Institute found that the two most desirable traits in leaders are a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor, so learn to keep it positive, and laugh and smile easily.
• Keep your emotions in check. This doesn’t mean you should be robotic and stop experiencing emotions, but you need to be mindful of their effect. First and foremost, avoid anger and negativity. Think of how to project your opinion positively. Also, stay calm by taking a few deep breaths before you react. Learn to recognize and address your physical body responses, like a pounding heart or dry mouth, and diffuse them before they get the best of you.
A focus on emotional intelligence is essential to anyone who wants to develop, lead and motivate others. Learn to channel and filter your emotions appropriately.
• Listen actively. Attentive listening is an art and requires practice. It is one of the best ways to build trust at work. To become an active listener, always face the speaker and maintain eye contact. No staring, though, just act normal. Mentally screen out distractions so you can fully concentrate on what is being said. Don’t interrupt or finish sentences; but do show that you understand with a well-timed response where appropriate.
• Be yourself. What is “being yourself” In a job setting? It means being authentic — not pretending to be someone else, and not offering more than you can deliver or something different than what you are comfortable with. Own who you are and what you can offer. You can’t hold up a façade, so be you, but be the best you that you can be.
Practice makes Perfect
You’ll be making first impressions every day in any new role, so make sure you don’t put these behaviors aside after your first week or two. Continue to practice and improve. These traits will become your personal brand. Like anything that matters, your brand needs consistent attention. Take nothing for granted and consciously decide to practice these tips to build lasting habits and unforgettable first impressions.
Congratulations on your new opportunity, and we at Knopman Marks wish you the very best. Thanks for checking in, and stay in touch!