How important are you?

To your family and friends, extremely important but to others you’ve just met – not so.

That’s why making a killer first and lasting impression is invaluable to your future prospects.

How to make a killer first impression in 7 easy steps

When you first start out in a new role or a new job, you want to make a killer first impression with your boss, your colleagues and your customers.

It only takes a few seconds for others to evaluate you when you meet them for the first time.

Not only will you be evaluated by your appearance, body language, your mannerisms and how you are dressed, you will also be evaluated by what you have to say.

Generation gapAs a Millennial, most likely you were brought up with the Internet, texting and smart phones.

However, words only represent 8% of all your communication skills and you may find yourself in a workplace where there is a generation gap.

You have your style of communication and others have theirs. Bridging that gap, and quickly is a great way to make a good first impression.

Here are seven handy tips on how to make a good first impression regardless of the age different in the workplace.

Step 1: Present yourself appropriately

If a picture is worth a thousand words, dressing to make a good first impression is critical to your success.

It’s very difficult to undo another person’s first impression of you therefore it’s important to dress appropriately.

Presenting yourself appropriately does not mean you must have model looks. It means you must dress for the occasion.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover yet that is exactly what most people do. The cover is what attracts them to pick up the book and scan the back or inside cover looking for clues if it’s something they would like to read.

It’s the same with people.

How you present yourself is usually the first clue they have into your character.

Image - first impressionDressing appropriately does not mean having to wear a suit and tie or a business suit if you are a woman.

There are plenty of options depending on the nature of the meeting.

Ask yourself, what will the people you are meeting with likely to be wearing? Suit, smart casual, corporate uniform, casual uniform, jeans and tee shirt?

Many tech companies have a very casual dress code where employees wear jeans and T-shirts to work.

In this scenario, a pin-striped suit would be out of place. On the other hand, jeans and T-shirts would not cut it in a formal business environment.

Regardless of how you dress, your grooming is equally important.

For men, it’s a neat haircut and shave or a well-trimmed beard. For women, subtle make up and conservative jewelry.

You can always change things up as you get to know more about the work environment, culture and their dress code.

Step 2: Create a winning smile

There is nothing like a winning smile to create great first impression. When you smile, you are likely to get one back. As the saying goes, smile and the world smiles with you.

When you smile, its important to smile with your eyes as well as your mouth and it must be genuine. A fake smile is not as easily hidden as you might think. If smiling challenges you, this is something you may need to practice.

A confident genuine smile is what will instantly put others at ease when you first meet them.

Be careful not to overdo the smile as you could come across as being insincere.

Step 3: Listen before speaking

The famed martial artist, Bruce Lee, had a great desire to be trained by a local Master.

At the time, Bruce had an extensive background in martial arts training along with significant fighting experience. He approached the Master, and after making the customary bows, asked him to become his teacher.

What Bruce then did, was to talk about his experience in the martial arts world and rambled on and on about how many fights he had won.

The Master listened to him patiently and then began to make some tea. When it was ready, he placed a cup in front of Bruce and began to pour some tea.

Overflowing cup of tea As Bruce continued talking, he watched the master pour the tea into the cup.

The cup slowly filled with tea but the master didn’t stop pouring and it began to overflow on to the table and then on to the floor.

While trying to be respectful Bruce watched on until couldn’t hold it in any longer and shouted, “Stop, stop! The cup is full; you can’t get any more in.”

The master stopped pouring and turned to Bruce, “You are like this cup; you are full of ideas and opinions. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in. Before I can teach you, you will have to empty your cup.”

Often people are so full of their own ideas and opinions, they become trapped by their conditioning and fill themselves up to the brim and nothing new sinks in.

To make a first impression, empty your cup and actively listen to others as you are introduced!

Step 4: Remember names

Listen very carefully to the names of the people you are being introduced to. As Dale Carnegie says, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest most important sound in any language.”

RememberRemembering someone’s name is a mark of respect.


It’s a poor excuse to say, “I’m bad at remembering names!” This is an attitude and it means you don’t care enough to make the effort to remember their name. Remembering names is a skill that, when practiced, becomes a habit.

By remembering a person’s name, you immediately make a good first impression. What you are in fact telling that person by remembering their name is that you are genuinely interested in them.

Being genuinely interested in others will make not only a good first impression, it will make a lasting impression.

Step 5: Become genuinely interested in others

If you are aloof, stand offish, full of your own importance and give an impression that you don’t care about others, you will make a lasting impression, just not the one you were hoping for.

As a new comer to an organization, others have already formed alliances, friendships and working relationships. They are part of a team.

You are the outsider and before being accepted into a team, even a team of two, you must be able to build trust and rapport.

One of the quickest ways to do this is to become genuinely interested in others.

Good impressionPeople are far more responsive when you show a genuine interest in them.

Nobody cares about you until they know how much you care about them.

As with the Bruce Lee example, find out about others before talking about yourself unless of course someone asks you the question.

“Tell me about yourself.”

It’s natural when you introduce yourself to want to sell yourself, your ideas, your background and your accomplishments.

However, for so many, it goes all wrong and you spend the next 3 to 6 months trying to rebuild relationships you lost in the first interaction you had with others.

The main reason it all goes so wrong, is that you get in your own way.

Yes, you may be an expert at something which is why you are in the role, and because of this, you judge others which keeps you from learning the essentials of effective communication.

One of essentials of effective communications is the art of asking questions.

Not just any questions, the right questions the right way.

Step 6: Ask effective questions

Once the initial introductions are made, there is a second stage to making a lasting good impression and that is how you continue to interact with others in the workplace.

No one likes a smart ass or know it all personality.

Even if you did make a good first impression, your boss, work colleagues and customers can equally change their mind. You will quickly become known as a difficult person to work with.

Ask questionsYes, you have expertise.

Yes, you have experience.

Yes, you have the right qualifications and background but that doesn’t always translate into your new role.

That’s because every work environment has a different culture and a different way of doing things.

The quickest and easiest way to find your feet and make a lasting impression is to ask effective questions.

Encourage others to share their experiences, what works and what doesn’t.

Ask questions about their background and how long they have been in the role.

Not only does this give you a greater insight into how things work, it also makes them feel important.

Step 7: Make the other person feel important

The quickest way to get alongside others and make a killer impression is to make the other person feel important. The key is to do it sincerely.

SmileWhen you smile confidently, listen intently to others, use their name, talk in terms of their interests, you make them feel important.

Others will react positively when shown respect and treated with dignity.

Give your new boss, colleagues and customers your undivided attention and do it sincerely.

Think of making a killer impression with others as having an emotional bank account.

Stephen Covey talks about this in his bestselling book The Seven Habits of Effective People. 

When you manage a regular bank account, you make deposits and withdrawals always looking to build a positive bank balance.

If you take out more money than what’s is in your account, you go into overdraft. If you go into overdraft too often, or run up massive debts, you eventually go bankrupt.

Interpersonal relationships are the same. If you keep taking from others in those first few weeks – they will experience an emotional overdraft and back away.

It is far more important to keep making emotional deposits into the relationship account and build up trust so that one day when you need to make a withdrawal by asking for something you have enough in your emotional bank account to sustain the relationship.

How do you make a first impression? Have you tried any of these tips before? I would love to hear your stories and experiences in the comment section below.

For more business tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.


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