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I recently attended a little lecture and book signing of a friend who has become the best-selling Queen of “succeeding with people.” There, Vanessa Van Edwards gave some amazingly simple tips on how to connect with people–a little preview from her book “Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.” After the evening, I got to thinking about how important it is to make a great first impression, so along with a few of Vanessa’s insights and tips I’ve picked up along the way, here are 5 tricks to making a great first impression. So whether you have a college interview or a first date, be sure to implement these:
1. Give them a little Dopamine.
Ah, the feel-good chemical released by our nerve cells. That’s Dopamine. Did you know you’ll get a little dose of the happy chemical when you shake someone’s hand or hug them? So go ahead, make sure you make physical contact with someone you’re meeting. Instead of a wave or a head nod, go for the handshake or hug. They will love the Dopamine boost and associate the pleasant moment with you.
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2. Ask questions.
My mom’s been telling me this since I was a little girl; ask people questions. People love to talk about themselves, so as part of your first impression, get them to share something with you. The next step is to be a thoughtful listener. Make sure you’re not just listening in order to respond but listening in order to absorb what they’re saying.
3. Ask the right questions.
One of my favorite parts of Vanessa’s book signing was her insight on the right questions to ask people. We actually tested it out, and guess what was the most conversation stopping question? “What do you do?” You think you might be acing your first impression, but you actually just halted the conversation. Instead, try asking more specific questions that are easier and more enjoyable for people to answer. Instead of “What do you do?” ask “Are you working on a project you’re excited about?” Instead of asking, “How was your day?” ask “Have you gone on any cool vacations lately?” You’ll see, it works conversational magic.
4. Show your hands.
Research has shown that people are subconsciously fearful when they can’t see other people’s hands. It’s an animalist reaction–maybe they have a knife behind there! So take your hands out of your pockets or from behind your back. It’s also been proven that TED Talk presenters with the highest views use their hands as an important form of expression. So go ahead! Talk with your hands! It’s important, actually, but just don’t go crazy.
5. Dress for your kind of success.
Dress in what makes you feel like “you.” The best way to make a great impression is to actually feel like the “you” you’re proud of, not some imposter. I’m not saying wear ripped jeans and a tee to an interview, but if a pencil skirt and blouse isn’t you, don’t wear it! You’ll feel like an imposter of yourself, and really you just need to let “you” shine to succeed.
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