A first impression is our first and sometimes only opportunity to provide someone with a sense of who we are, says Constance Hoffman, owner, coach and speaker of Social & Business Graces. "In a first impression, others see only a little sample of you, a tiny percentage of your life. But to them, that sample represents 100 percent of what they know of you." So, how can you ensure that first impression is great?
Robyn Hatcher of Talk is Cheap, Communication is Priceless says making a good first impression doesn't always mean dressing to blend in. "What's the one quality about you that you just love? Make one style choice that reflects that quality. I recently attended a women's networking group in New York City and was one of 4 women out of a room of 30 who was wearing COLOR. Yes, I was also wearing the ubiquitous black, but I threw on a bright red flowing sweater that communicated both my passion and my easygoing nature. Instead of dressing for success all the time, dress to Express."
"By simply raising your eyebrows quickly upon entering a room, you signal that you are a friendly, positive person who is also excited and exciting. People will feel friendlier and warmer towards you," says Hatcher.
Posture says far more than words, says Hatcher. She says you don't want to slouch, yet you also don't want to stand military straight." Stand with your feet hip distance apart, a slight bend in your knees and your weight slightly forward. That gives you a solid base and pitches your body slightly towards the person you're addressing. And be sure to keep your torso fully visible. Folding your arms or any other gesture that covers your torso, communicates insecurity. Comfortably displaying your torso shows you're confident and trustworthy."
"The voice is the second most important part of an effective first impression," says Hatcher. "You can do all of the above and then open your mouth and totally blow it. Speak from the diaphragm and lower your pitch, which goes for men and women. Lower pitches automatically sound more authoritative and confident. Avoid up-speaking (making everything a question) and avoid speaking too softly or losing energy at the end of your sentences.
Making eye contact shows you are confident and that you are listening to what the other person is talking about. "Make sure you make sincere eye contact," says Hoffman. "The correct amount of time to maintain eye contact is 60-70% of the time of a conversation. Making eye contact allows the other party to know of your interest."
Do you have your handshake etiquette down? "A good handshake is one where your hand is fully in the other person's hand, touching web to web, palm to palm," says Arden Clise, business etiquette expert. "Have a firm, but not bone-crushing grip. Avoid a loose, weak or overly firm grip. Pump two to three times, then let go. Never touch the person's hand or arm with your other hand. That's too intimate."
"Whether you're going to a networking event, job interview, first date or first day at a new job, do your homework about the most relevant topics you'll likely need to discuss," says Nyda Bittmann-Neville, CEO of TNB Consulting Group, Inc.
A warm smile brightens your face, shows confidence and friendliness. "A warm smile always makes a good first impression," says Clise.
Uni-brow, fuzzy caterpillar brows, bushy brows - we know these are fashion don'ts. But do you know how to shape your eyebrows properly? Professional make-up artist Vinnetta Scrivo shows how it's done.
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