Rules to Making a First Impression

First impressions are often very difficult to change. When you’re looking for a new job or meeting new people, these first impressions often have implications out of your control. You may have heard that first impressions are very important, but what you probably don’t know is just how little time you have to make one. According to Forbes Contributor Serenity Gibbons, you only have seven seconds to make a first impression. In a day and age when gaining and keeping someone’s attention is increasingly difficult, figuring out how to make the most of this short amount of time is crucial.

If you have ever watched the popular entrepreneurial show “Shark Tank,” you probably are familiar with real estate mogul and “shark” Barbara Corcoran. On the show, first impressions can make or break one’s chances at getting funding from the sharks. Similar to a job interview or networking, these quick decisions carry a lot of weight for future chances at success. In an article for CNBC’s Make It, Corcoran described her four rules to making a good impression.

Have Good Posture

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between posture and confidence. If someone is hunched over, that is a sign of low confidence which likely won’t get you hired. Even if you have to fake your posture, it will portray confidence which is sort of a “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality. If you really take time to work on your posture, your confidence may follow suit.

Corcoran suggests standing tall with your stomach in, shoulders back, knees flexed and arms naturally hanging down the sides of your body.

Make Eye Contact

Eye contact is an uncomfortable thing. Too much can make someone feel uncomfortable, but too little shows a lack of confidence or trustworthiness. How much eye contact is ideal? According to psychologists most people feel comfortable maintaining eye contact in three second increments.

If making eye contact makes you anxious or uncomfortable, check out these tips.

Look The Part

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Depending on the type of job you’re interviewing for, you should dress accordingly. Check out this interview attire guide from The Balance Careers. There are enough resources available to you that you can get an idea of what the company culture so you dress accordingly for the interview. The rule of thumb is it is better to be overdressed than underdressed, but Forbes Contributor Tom Popomaronis takes it a step further. “Dress for the results you want. It will increase your credibility points.”

Communicate Clearly

When you are passionate about something, that will be evident in your conversations – both personal and professional. If you’re talking about something you have no interest in you will likely fumble over your words and not be able to communicate your point. In an interview, the interviewer will be able to tell the difference between passion and lack of interest based on your ability to communicate about the topic. If you aren’t passionate, Corcoran warns that you’ll get asked “50,000 questions…and you’re going to come up empty.”

As mentioned, it only takes a few seconds to make a first impression. If you follow these four tips you won’t have to worry about whether or not you made a good one. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

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