You only get one chance to make a first impression. Here are 12 tips that will help strengthen — and not blow — that platinum opportunity, from Vicky Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions:
1. Find your power color.
Listen to your friends when they compliment you on a color you’re wearing.
2. Look sharp.
Make sure your shoes are not scuffed, your suit or dress is pressed, and your jewelry and accessories are members of the same family.
3. Talk good; speak well.
Enunciate your words. Avoid slang. Speak in whole sentences — and use proper grammar.
4. Use “power words.”
Power words are words or phrases that instantly cause your listener to perk up and take note, like: detail-oriented, high-energy, organized, quick study, team player, people skills, research skills, and leadership.
5. Be positive.
The first question you’ll field in any setting, whether it’s a client meeting or a job interview, is “How are you?” Be positive. Say, “It’s impossible to complain about anything on a beautiful day. I’m happy to be here.”
6. Prep for it.
For a job interview, research the company ahead of time. For a networking event, know something about key players. Come prepared with some industry-specific news that makes a good conversation starter.
7. Appear calm.
One way not to seem nervous is to arrive fifteen minutes early so you have a few minutes in your car or in the bathroom to compose yourself.
8. Never let them see you sweat.
There is usually one jerk in the crowd who will say something wildly inappropriate. The best response? Smile and make a lighthearted joke, if possible.
9. Be courteous.
Courtesy involves listening rather than talking, not interrupting, not “trumping” someone else’s story, and being especially respectful of elderly people.
10. Don’t be a joker.
Workplace humor can be risky, because so many jokes offend. There’s a fine line between funny and bad taste. Don’t cross it.
11. Create chemistry.
Being charismatic and simpatico is all about creating chemistry where there is none. The key to being liked is to ask questions.
12. Remember their names.
There’s almost nothing more impressive to a group of people than when a newcomer remembers all of their names.
Do what others fail to do!
Marvin Walberg is a job-search coach based in Birmingham, Ala. For contact information, see marvin-walberg.com.