Love at first sight, or is it? Those first impressions can be monumental in how the rest of the relationship goes, or even if the relationship gets started. Professionally, it could be a career-changer. This initial encounter can have a great effect on creating that long lasting positive connection. A first touch point, when handled mindfully, purposefully, can determine the direction in which your next steps take you. When handling that first professional encounter mindfully you can create long lasting workplace connections that will serve you well down the line. Tackling it without much thought could take you down the long road of repair. We don’t get a first time do-over. 

This may not be something we often think about, but mastering the art of first impressions is a huge asset in building and maintaining those trusting relationships with colleagues, employees, and supervisors. For potential future employers, it could derail the interview. Simply showing up with a smile and strong handshake is a very small part of the encounter. Ensuring this initial meeting is a positive one that starts off your relationship in the positive direction you desire requires several steps. 

Take time to Learn.  Lack of preparation sends the message “I was too busy to even think about this first meet and greet.”  Being ready and doing a little legwork upfront can be a big advantage. Gather as much information as you can about the person you will be meeting. How long have they been at the organization, where were they before they joined, what are some of their interests that are unique to them? There are also professional social media resources – hint begins with ‘L’ – open to the public and one can learn a lot about a person by visiting their page. Knowing these little things comes in handy in finding common interests and forging, right from the start, a solid connection.  You never know when this knowledge will come in handy.

Lasting impressions.  It goes without saying that you should look your professional best. Caring about yourself is a sign of confidence and comfort. Appearing in inappropriate, non-professional clothes, or rumpled and stained outfits, sends the message that you don’t care about yourself. You can certainly reflect your personality in ways that maintain professionalism and for one of us….. it’s all about the shoes! If you are not dressing yourself appropriately, you send the message that you don’t care about yourself so why should this person you are meeting care about you? Taking pride in your appearance, clean, professional, and put together, offers a space for the person to relax and feel valued by someone who values themselves.

Who else do you know?  It is very common to know people in common when working in certain circles. Talk to people you know and figure out who knows whom. When meeting for the first time, it’s good to know if the person you are meeting has professional relationships with others you work with. We’re not talking about “name dropping” to elevate your status in someone’s eyes, but rather as a way to connect professionally with people who already know you and the person you are meeting. A word of caution here – be close to certain that this relationship between them is a positive one. The familiarity with another colleague or friend will put the person at ease and help get things off to a good start.

A little humor goes a long way.  Humor can be a great diffuser if you’re comfortable with it, it is used sparingly and at the right time.  When we laugh it increases our heart rate, blood flow, and reduces levels of stress.  Releasing that tension increases the emotional attachment individuals feel toward one another and builds better working relationships.  So long as the humor fits you, is tasteful, and delivered carefully, the results will be positive. 

Feel the joy.  When you truly psych yourself up to be excited and happy to meet and greet, the person feels it. People’s energy is felt and contagious and there is a good chance that the person you are meeting will be able reflect that same feeling towards you. What better way to start that relationship than in a state of happiness and joy?

These tips are a just a few that can make that first meet and greet the start to a long lasting, rewarding professional relationship. The next time you are scheduled to meet someone for the first time, take a moment to explore these tips in the art of first impressions, and see where the relationship takes you!

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