Tips For Making Great First Impressions

Build Your Personal Brand Around Making Great First Impressions.

Making great fist impressions is never a guarantee. We don’t enjoy the luxury of second chances to make first impressions. Nothing new right? You’ve heard all your life that a potential client, a future employer, a stranger, or the person sitting across the table for a first date forms an impression of you within the first 60 seconds of meeting you.

Wait, is it even a minute? Most studies suggest favorable first impressions are formed by others within the first 3 to 20 seconds.  Regardless to what we’ve heard, a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal it takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger’s face, and longer exposures don’t drastically change those initial perceptions. Research conducted by Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist of Harvard Business School, further suggest in forming first impressions of others, we don’t form a solo impression.  Her work suggests we form two distinct impressions. The first being how warm and trustworthy the person is, which attempts to answer the question, “What are this person’s intentions toward me?” The second being, “How strong and competent is this person?” Which correlates to if they’re capable of enacting their intentions. The research goes on to indicate the two trait dimensions account for 80 to 90 percent of an overall first impression.

As Fall approaches,  its prime time to explore new opportunities. Yes, get out, network and share the brilliance of your personal brand.  If you happen to be preparing for a job or graduate school interview, a new client pitch, a blind date, or a series of networking events, have your act together in the blink of an eye. You should be excited to get out and meet folks; yet, it can be a tad nerve-wracking preparing to leave your best foot forward.  Aside from the normal thoughts of what to wear, what questions to ask, and sparking an engaging conversation during your first connection; keep these tidbits at the forefront of your mind and score big.

Creating Great First Impressions:

  • On average you have seven seconds in making great first impressions (According to Forbes and Business Insider, etc.)? Remain attentive, give strong eye contact and be a great listener.
  • Build trust. Aim to establish trust by getting information about the other person and their interests. Ask them a question, and  get them to share something about themselves.
  • At the very moment the other person connects with you, their brain automatically makes numerous assessments. Are you someone to approach or avoid? Are you friendly or not? Do you have authority? Are you trustworthy and competent? Always lead with a smile and a firm handshake.
  • Their assessments are created at the subconscious level and guide humans to make impressionable decisions about one another in the first few seconds of contact. Exude confidence,  remain engage, and use head nods to indicate that you’re following what the person you’re talking to has to say.
  • First impressions are heavily influenced by nonverbal cues. Studies have found that nonverbal cues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say. Keep your head up,  with a good posture: shoulders rolled back with open arm poses.
  • As with anything, knowledge is power. Empower yourself by approaching every encounter dressed neatly,   a smile in tow, and offering clear  communication.

Making Great First Impressions Go A Long Ways.

The bottom line remains,  judgments based on facial appearance, nonverbal communication, your personal style and eye contact strongly impact your favorable first impressions. And favorable impressions help you to create strong networks, and opportunities to expand your personal brand.

Ready, set, go….you’ve built a great personal brand,  now share your brand in confidence + with grace while making great first impressions.


Courtney R. Rhodes is the author of Make Your Mark: Personal Branding Through “On-Purpose” Living. She is a brand building and marketing strategist, with a passion for working with socially conscious brands. She is the founder of and Courtney enjoys speaking about entrepreneurship, personal branding, personal style, marketing, women's empowerment, and professional development. She prides herself on being an eager student of the arts, humanities and the pursuit of happiness.Courtney is a graduate of Morgan State University ('98) and The University of Baltimore M.A. ('03).

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