First Impressions: Get it right the first time!

First impressions happen automatically. We can’t help it.

It is crazy how fast our brains work. In the first few seconds of meeting someone you form an opinion about them. It’s hard to undo this opinion.

In the professional world, first impressions are crucial. Here are some tips to make sure you get it right!

Tips for Great First Impressions

Crack the Dress Code

Dress for success for the situation. Each industry, job interview, and networking opportunity will have its own fashion protocol. It’s your job to figure out what it is. However, the following will hold true for any situation:

  • Dress neat–no wrinkles
  • Tuck your shirt in
  • fashionable
  • matching
  • fit correctly
  • hair neat and styled


Stand and sit with good posture. If you aren’t used to standing and sitting up straight, practice in front of a mirror. You will look much more confident, alert and successful with good posture.

Body Language and Hands

Pay attention to your body language and what you are doing with your hands. Many of us tend to fidget and fiddle when we are nervous–but that is dead give away.

However, gesticulating for emphasis is actually a good thing. It builds trust quickly because the listener has another way to evaluate your intentions. Wild hand motions and waving them around above shoulder height just makes you look crazy. Be aware of what you are doing.

Related: Body Language in an Interview

The Perfect Handshake

In our professional culture your handshake matters a lot. No limp noodles and no death grips. Somewhere in between with the right amount of eye contact and you are golden.

Handshakes and First Impressions:

  • Firm
  • dry
  • lasts for about two or three seconds
  • good eye contact
  • smile

Good Eye Contact

What is too much eye contact? Too little? The more natural of a speaker and listener you are, the better impression you will give. However, most of us need practice at this. Good eye contact conveys:

  • honesty
  •  a memorable interaction
  • persuasiveness
  • a stronger connection

Look at the other person about 60 to 70 percent of the time. If it is uncomfortable for you to look someone in the eye, you can concentrate on the eyebrows or space between the nose.

Are you trustworthy?

Being trustworthy is the single more important thing about first impressions. If you can’t establish that, the rest doesn’t really matter.

How to establish trustworthiness for first impressions:

  • Stand or sit straight and lean in slightly.
  • Don’t dominate the conversation, let the other person or people lead.
  • Use active listening
  • Don’t fidget
  • Don’t look at you watch or a clock
  • Smile

If you act natural and professional you will give the best first impression possible. Take a deep breath. You’ve got this!

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