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Nicole Martin
New Jersey
Remixing my wardrobe to create buzz-worthy, office-approved outfits! Find out more at: Creating Panache.
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

5 Ways to Make a GREAT First Impression

Hello readers!  Apologies in advance for the sporadic posts over the next week…  Yesterday I had to drive to Connecticut for The Day Job, and this morning I flew out to Chicago for the Lollapalooza music festival!  I’m really excited to have a few days off, but I’ll try to take some weekend outfit pics to post once I’m back.  I also wrote this post while on the plane – go multi-tasking!

A couple weeks ago I posted ways to add panache to your interview outfit.  I’ll add similar posts in the future for a variety of work-related settings.  But I figured it would be helpful to have a go-to guide for any situation where you will be meeting people for the first time.  In come cases, you may know that you need to make a good impression (interviews, client meetings, etc.)  However, in places like networking events or even on an airplane, you never know who you’re going to meet.  Better to be safe than sorry with these 5 tips:

5 Ways to Make a GREAT First Impression

  1. Dress for the Occasion
This wouldn’t be Employed Panache if this wasn’t listed as #1!  I could go on any number of tangents on how to dress for certain situations, but I’ll keep it simple: do your research.  Know your audience and their general style.  If they are very formal and conservative, don’t go for cutting edge fashion.  Same goes for the opposite – a group who tends to be casual may be leery of someone who is overly dressed up.

  1. Learn New Names
When meeting people for the first time, actively learn their names.  For some people, this goes beyond introductions if you have a terrible memory for names.  I’m one of those people… so I have a couple methods for remembering.  First, I repeat the name out loud (“Bob Smith, very nice to meet you!”) and then I repeat the name over in my head.  If I’m lucky enough to be in a meeting where it’s appropriate to take notes, I write down the names, usually in the order of where they are sitting.  That way, I can picture their face later on.  Other people like to make name associations: “Rachel, who is very friendly and likes to cook = Rachel Ray.”  Do whatever works for you!

  1. Talk About Your Panache
Has anyone ever advised that you memorize an elevator speech?  Being able to talk about your panache is similar to that, only I don’t like the pressure of restricting it to 30 seconds.  Your talk should definitely be brief, but not so short that it sounds rushed and canned.  And, your panache goes beyond just what you’re wearing.  Unless of course you have the opportunity to walk the red carpet for some fancy event, in which case you better remember who you’re wearing ;)

When talking about your panache, people should walk away knowing who you are and what you’re about.  You may prepare a short paragraph, but feel out the conversation before reciting – it might make more sense to introduce yourself and wait for the other person to start asking questions.  Dialogues always feel more natural to me personally.  So my talk would go something like this:

“Hi, I’m Nicole Martin.  I’m an HR Specialist supporting the Supply Chain at my company.  I really love my job, especially when I’m involved with someone’s career development.  It feels really good to see my employees progress and earn that next role.  I’ve seen how another person’s perspective can really make or break someone’s career, which is why I’m especially passionate about personal branding as well.  In fact, I’ve recently started a blog about it!”

  1. Ask Questions
Remember that it’s not all about you :)  Take an active interest in the other person.  Don’t stress about what to talk about – you can ask a simple question such as, “Have you read any good books lately?”  Jonna Martin (LINK) shared another good one with me: “Have you taken any trips recently?”  She swears that this will definitely get the other person talking!  And here’s a secret: if you can get the other person to talk more than you, this reflects best on YOU!  Sounds weird, but it’s because the other person will remember actively participating in a conversation with you.

  1. Believe in Yourself!
Last but not least, have confidence in yourself!  Even if you’re in a room where you know nobody, or everyone outranks you, or you just don’t think you have anything in common with anyone… put on a smile and fake it til you make it!  If you’re open and friendly, you’ll be surprised by how many people you’ll meet.

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