It’s very difficult to bounce back from a bad first impression—but that doesn’t mean you need to fear meeting new people. Tackle first-time interactions with confidence with these 11 empirically proven strategies for making a lasting positive impression.
1. MAINTAIN STRONG (BUT NOT CREEPY) EYE CONTACT.
Studies have also shown that people who maintain eye contact are perceived as more intelligent—but there is such a thing as too much eye contact. Psychopaths are said to have “odd gaze patterns,” so don’t give your new connection the wrong idea.
2. HAVE A FIRM, WARM, AND DRY HANDSHAKE.
Researchers found that handshakes that are dry, firm, and warm are key to making a good first impression. These factors are especially important to keep in mind when meeting a woman you’ve never met before: It’s been proven that women are better than men at translating nonverbal cues, so they are more likely to appreciate and interpret a strong handshake.
3. CONSIDER THE TONE OF YOUR VOICE.
According to a 2014 study, judgments on trustworthiness, dominance, and likeability are all linked to the way that things are said. Researchers analyzed the way that 320 participants perceived the vocal attractiveness of men and women with new and unfamiliar voices. They found that a single spoken word, “Hello,” was enough to make a snap judgment on personality. Perhaps surprisingly, the study found that that lower pitched male voices were considered more dominant and attractive, while higher pitched female voices were considered more dominant and attractive. Overall, the researchers posit that older voices are perceived as more friendly and trustworthy.
4. DRESS FOR SUCCESS.
The old quote about dressing for the job you want holds true. A 2013 study asked 300 adult participants to make snap judgments on photographs of men wearing either highly tailored or ill-fitting off-the-rack suits. Consistently, the men with well-fitting suits were deemed more confident, successful, and higher-earning than their sloppily dressed counterparts.
5. PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE.
This one should be common sense, but there is science that supports being clean is a solid skill when you’re networking. A 2007 study explored how members of the opposite sex formed first impressions based on mouth and tooth appearance. Both sexes preferred subjects with healthy dentition. However, tooth appearance played less of a role when participants were evaluating the attractiveness of members of the same sex.
6. GET A HAIRCUT, BUT GROW A BEARD.
In a study of beard and hair length’s effect on first impressions, researchers in 1978 found that short hair was more favorable while bearded men were considered more attractive than clean-shaven men. But with man buns currently in vogue, this study could stand to be repeated.
7. BE THERE IN PERSON, IF YOU CAN.
According to new research, your online dating profile may be doing you a disservice. A 2014 study evaluating the accuracy of first impressions made in person versus digitally proved that it’s best to meet face-to-face. Passive impressions—made by watching a video or looking through photos of a person—were found to be much more negative than impressions made during a three-minute speed dating-type interaction.
8. WAIT TO SPEAK.
One prominent psychologist recommends letting the other person speak first. When you monopolize the conversation, you exhibit dominance rather than warmth. But if your new acquaintance feels understood and listened to, you encourage greater openness and acceptance.
9. SHOW INTEREST AND COLLECT INFORMATION.
Building trust during a first encounter is important, and one way to do that is to listen and connect on a personal level. While it might seem like a waste of time, small talk before a negotiation actually helps pave the way for a more fruitful conversation.
10. STRIKE A POSE.
Good posture shows that you’re confident, but there is another pre-meeting tip involving the body that you should try. Research on “power posing” shows that holding a strong pose for a couple of minutes increases testosterone and decreases cortisol. These chemical changes configure the brain to make you feel more assertive, confident, and comfortable.
11. AND OF COURSE, SMILE.
Researchers in the United Kingdom explored the correlation between facial expressions and perceived personality and unsurprisingly found that upon meeting someone new, we study facial features to judge intentions and attraction. Big smiles are more positive than blank faces or furrowed brows. Smiles not only are more likely to get a positive reaction, but are more likely to be returned.
By smiling, listening, and offering clients personal attention, Wells Fargo Advisors always make a great first impression. To learn more about how to join their ranks, visit joinwfadvisors.com.
Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.