The 5-Step Guide to Making a Positive First Impression

 Making a Positive First Impression

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” No doubt you’ve heard that saying since you were a kid. As an adult, it still applies — especially to administrative professionals.

As an admin, the first impression you make is often on behalf of the department or company you work for. Whether a receptionist or executive assistant, you’re frequently the first person clients, vendors and internal customers see or speak with. The quality of that interaction can set the stage for your organization’s relationship with the person going forward.

Of course, serving as the face of your company or group isn’t the only time you need to make a positive first impression. Think about networking events, interviews, the start of a new job, and initial meetings with executives or fellow admins from other departments. When you think about it, the professional world is all about the first impression.

So how do you make a great first impression? Here are five tips for making that first moment count.

1. Polish your interpersonal skills

You’ll need excellent verbal and written communication skills to make a positive first impression. A good tip for speaking more clearly is to skip jargon and buzzwords, and always maintain a professional tone. Do the same with your writing, and be sure to proofread everything twice. If you feel you are lacking in these abilities, consider taking classes to improve or asking a mentor for assistance.

2. Listen intently

Your eyes and facial expression will tell the person you’re talking with whether you’re actually listening or just waiting for your turn to speak. Make it clear that you are truly interested in what the other person is saying and want to help him or her.

3. Speak with a smile in your voice

When it’s your turn to talk, speak in an even tone and moderate volume. (Contrary to popular belief, people don’t necessarily listen better when you speak louder.) When talking on the phone, smile. Even though your contact can’t see you, you’ll sound friendlier and more receptive.

4. Holster your cell phone

This should go without saying, but ignore your phone when meeting someone new. Better yet, turn it off.

When the phone starts to buzz, a person’s initial reaction is usually to pause the conversation and, if not answer the phone, at least glance at the screen to see if it’s worth picking up. Ignore that impulse. Your first impression depends on it. That small gesture tells the other person that they don’t have your full attention and you don’t value their time. If you actually are expecting a critical call, forewarn the other person.

5. Don’t hide your sense of humor

Use your initial conversation to get better acquainted with a new contact. If appropriate and time permitting, share anecdotes or humorous stories. If you can prompt a laugh about some shared experience, that’s a genuine accomplishment.

Making a positive first impression is largely about being courteous, sincere and communicating with the best of intentions. That’s not so hard after all, is it?   

Take your first impression to the next level by reading our tips for developing an executive presence.