5 Things I Learnt About Making A Great First Impression

Kumar Gauraw

Have you noticed how much impact your first impression has on your overall experience in any interaction with another human being? Sometimes, a great first impression becomes a life saver in difficult situations while a simple transaction may turn into a nightmare based on how we perceive one another based on the first impression.

A firm Handshake And A Dress For Success Example - New Employee Meeting The Boss For The First Time

Back in the days when I just started working, right after college, I had a tough time understanding why people at work wouldn’t take me seriously unless I confronted them.

Not just at work, I soon realized I had the challenge of having a good transaction in most places of public service as well such as booking counters at railway stations, bank clerks, airport check-in counters and so forth.

Initially, I didn’t understand but one thing was sure. All those who I confronted (by the way, I used to be strong in my approach when I did that) started to respect my preferences, from then onwards consistently, for as long as they stayed around me.

While it took time for me to realize, but I did realize eventually that my problem was my first impression in most cases. Coming from a family of educators, I was trained to be highly respectful and that meant speaking in a low key tone, shoulders down and body language of being a little ‘extra nice’.

Eventually I realized that I was unknowingly giving an impression to people I met for the first time that I wasn’t confident and I wasn’t capable (perhaps). My first impression on people was that I was that ‘nice guy’ who doesn’t have a self-image.

And those who acted upon that impression, found out that they were wrong very soon and the hard way. But that wasn’t a pleasant experience for me in any way.

I had to realize that we really never do get a second chance to make a great first impression. I quickly needed to make some changes in the way I was making my first impression.

I made changes in the way I came across for the first time to anybody, and boy it made world of a difference. The topic for this blog is to share a few strategic changes I learnt about behavioural skills to make a great first impression.

First Impression is The Key And It Better Be Good

One thing you probably already realize that we often view others through that first lens we see them through. That means, we are all subject to being judged pretty quickly, aren’t we?

So, to make sure that first impression is memorable in a good way, here are a few tips I learnt. These helped me, not just in making an impression, but also continued to build other people’s confidence in me:

1. Dress For Success

During the initial days of my IT career, I saw one of the vice presidents of the company I used to work for, coming to work in shorts and a T-shirt. I thought he was very humble and so he didn’t come in suit and tie. I didn’t realize, he was already at the top and he could dress the way he wanted.

Later, through education I realized that the clothes we wear directly affect our self-esteem. The sharper we dress, the higher our self-esteem. Even better, the sharper we dress, the better respect we get from others.

People do draw clues from the way we dress and therefore, it’s important that if you are going to meet somebody for the first time, dress sharp, dress for success.

2. Give A Firm Handshake

By a firm handshake, it doesn't mean you squeeze the other person’s hand to demonstrate how powerful you are. But giving a handshake like a ‘dead fish’ is definitely an indication of low self-image or an ignorant attitude.

When you meet a new person, a prospect, a client or an interviewer, make sure you offer a firm and gentle handshake with a smile on your face and make eye contact with that person.

3. Speak In A Confident Tone

This was my biggest challenge in the beginning.  I didn’t know that I subconsciously turned many people off, when actually I was trying to show my respect by speaking in a low key tone. I realized later that fast pace people with a loud and clear voice get irritated quickly when they can’t hear you clearly the first time.
When I learnt this secret through the mentorship program I participate in, and through books, I changed my style to start the conversation in a bold and confident tone with a slow pace and then as I get a sense of the other person’s tone and pace – I try to match their tone and their pace. This works like magic and people instantly connect.

4. Address People With Their Names

This is one of the best ways to build instant rapport. When you meet somebody for the first time, obviously you tell them your name and they tell you theirs. Well, in many cases (me included), people don’t use each other’s names in the conversation and that’s pretty normal.

However, I realized that people get impressed when their hear their names during the course of conversation and if you use their names appropriately during the conversation, they feel great about you. Try this!

5. Ask Questions And Actively Listen

We all like to talk and most of us don’t like to listen. As long as we have something to say, we like to interrupt the other person to say what we have to say. And guess what? We also do not like to be interrupted.

If that is the case and you are out to make a great impression, doesn’t it make sense to be the person who pays attention to what the other person is saying and then ask questions to listen more?

God has given us 2 ears and one mouth for a reason. Therefore, we should spend our 66% of the time in listening and only 33% for saying something and as long as you do that, you will have great success, not just in making a great first impression, but also in the long run.

Over To You – Share Your Thoughts

Have you found success with any (or all) of the above shared tips about making a great first impression in your career? Have you applied any interesting techniques to make a great first impression that you would like to share here?

Please share your thoughts through your comments and add value. I would love to know what you have to say about this topic. Thank you kindly!

Kumar Gauraw

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Kumar Gauraw is a Personal Branding & Social Media strategist helping entrepreneurs and skilled professionals achieve personal and professional success by developing leadership and leveraging the power of the Internet, Blogging and Social Media.

25 Awesome Thoughts So Far, Add Yours Now...

  1. Dear Kumar,
    Thank you for the great post.
    Knowing people’s Names and showing respect is one of the greatest way to impress people when you meet the for the first time.
    And I would like to add one point that may be hard for many whereas it keeps great results “SMILE”. Actually, it cost nothing but it produces something.
    Have a great weekend,

    • Hi Charmant,

      Happy New Year to you and your family! Yes, Smile costs nothing but pays big dividends! Thank you for pointing that out. Not just that, it also helps us remain positive because it’s hard to be smiling and being angry at the same time πŸ™‚ Did you notice?

      Have a great weekend my friend! I am back to the US now!



  2. Hello Kumar,
    It’s really a great post for me as well as everyone. I am truly agree with your thoughts on first impression. I have just cleared by college and it’s really a tough time for me. I have given some interview through campus recruitment and cleared 2 steps of interview and last steps still left, hope with the help of your tips I will get a job …

    • Hi Himanshu,

      I know exactly how you must be feeling at the moment because that feeling is something I’ve gone through personally πŸ™‚

      And yes, good luck to you for your interview and the new job! Glad to know you found these tips helful. Wish you all the success this year!



  3. Hi, Kumar πŸ™‚

    Thank you for a very useful and informative post! I use all these tips in making a great first impression and it really helps. As you were writing in one of your previous posts I could add that showing on time helps in making a great first impression as well.


    • Hello Aistis,

      Happy New Year to you my friend! Yes, showing up on time makes a great impression because it shows you value your time as well as that of others! A great point indeed! Thank you!


  4. Hi Kumar,

    You have shared an important and strategic leadership content, well done.

    From my personal experience, I work with Stallion group ( an MNC owned by an Indian in Nigeria), aside my blogging addiction.

    My first impression and recommendation to the management really helped me and it is what has kept me in my present position.

    Thanks for sharing, I am sharing this post on twitter.

    • Wow! That’s a great testimonial James! Thank you for sharing!
      Happy New Year to you and I wish you all the success this year!

  5. These are some great tips Kumar and all things that I had to learn too. I started my career as an elementary school teacher and I really didn’t need to have a firm handshake. I also had no lack off confidence in my skills. However, when I made the transition to IT at a for-profit company, I was challenged with having to compete in a male dominated workplace. (This was the late 70’s and the company that I worked for was a co-op of farmers.)

    Of all your tips, I think having a firm handshake and speaking in confidence were the most beneficial to me. If I were to add another, it would be to make eye contact.

    Thanks for a post that reminds me of where I came from and how far I’ve come. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Sherryl,

      Happy New Year to you! Working on 70’s in a male dominated workplace atmosphere would certainly have been very challenging. I can imagine because my mother worked as a school teacher back then as well and I know the challenges she had to face in her workplace in a country like India where women, back then, didn’t have to work at all.

      And eye contact combined with a firm handshake is another great tip. Thank you for sharing your testimonial and sharing this tip.

      Have a great weekend!


  6. Hey Gauraw,
    That’s really a great post and indeed very much useful to me.
    I have never been able to present myself on stage. No matter how confidently I can talk to some one in person or in a group, but once I get on stage, I can’t speak a single word.
    Is there something I can do to get over my stage fear?
    I would really like to give some presentations without any help.

  7. Hi Kumar,

    I think that first impression sticks forever. I remember first impressions about people I’ve met more than anything else.

    It’s because first impression stick so much that’s so important to give a good one. It’s impossible to give a “second” first impression, so being on the alert and follow your tips here is vital.

    For example typical situations to make a great first impression is an interview. You won’t have two changes at that one. Or maybe a first date. I don’t think you’d have a second chance at that one either.

    Thanks for those excellent reminders.

    • Hi Sylviane,

      Happy New Year!

      And yes, we don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression. So, we better take all our chances on the first one πŸ™‚ Thank you for dropping by and sharing your words of appreciation.

      Have a successful next week!


  8. This is one of those topics I really love and hate at the same time πŸ˜€

    I really don’t like judging people based on our first impressions (sure..it had its advantages, especially with our ancestors. It still is helpful…but we shouldn’t blindly trust our ‘guts’. Perhaps the person is just having a really bad day?).

    Then there is other part of me that tells me not to care about what others think about me (to just care about who I really am…after all, that is what matters, right? I mean, people could think of me as a good person, but in reality, I could be a really bad one).

    Of course, business wise, we have to care about what other people think (same with relationships…because of all the complex nonsense!).

    I do love caring about what my readers (or clients) think…but, only to an extent. It depends upon the situation and so forth.

    Listening? Well, I am okay with listening (only problem is when I really don’t understand what the person is talking about…I mean, when they speak too fast. Usually, I don’t ask them to repeat it, unless we were talking about topics of ‘importance’ – for instance: talking about HW with my friends?).

    Anyways, thank you for the tips, Kumar πŸ™‚ I will try to remember these tips the next time I interact with someone new πŸ˜‰

    • Hi Jeevan,

      Making a great first impression is not necessarily about changing who you are. It simply means that you pay attention to the success principles. A low key tone, a loose handshake is simply a sign of a less than confident person and that doesn’t help in any way.

      A person who can’t dress for the occasion simply sends a message (indirectly) to people around that he/she is either lazy or careless. This isn’t good for you if people around you (or me) perceive this about us.

      So, it is about being at your best when you are going in front of a new person. And it comes with it’s own benefits (tangible and intangible – both). That is all it is about. It’s not about being artificial or manipulative.

      Hope it clarifies the concept?


  9. Hello; You did a good job with this post. I wanted to share something from my own education. I am an almost totally blind gentleman. While growing up I gradually lost my vision due to a degenerative disease called r p. All through my life I was reminded and encouraged to look towards the person speaking so they know you are paying attention to them. I got so good at it that a lot of people have accused me of not being blind. And I agree with you on clothes making you feel more confident. I recently received a gift of some new shirts and whenever i wear one of them i feel more confident and confidence is great for helping you make that great first impression. So we can all learn to make that great first impression. Thanks for the post, max

    • Hello Max,

      I remember your story through one of your comments and your life story is really inspiring. I look forward to your upcoming book as well πŸ™‚

      Happy New Year to you and I wish you all the success in this new year.

      Yes, dressing well has a definite advantage and it does boost our self-image instantly. Just like you mentioned, I have my own favorite shirts/pants for an important meeting and I do feel more confident than usual when have them on.

      Thanks for the words of appreciation!


      • hi; thanks for the kind words but am not currently working on a book. maybe i should? wink my favorite shirt is a black long sleeved one with embroidery. I need to get a new pair of black pants to go with it. keep up the great work, max

  10. Hey Kumar,

    I believe the first impressions are very important but I don’t solely judge someone based on just that. I know from my own experience over the years dealing with people that at times they’re nervous the first time so they usually aren’t themselves.

    I’ve changed over the years from being someone who use to be shy to someone who is very outgoing. I make a pretty strong first impression only because I am a very confident person and my personality is very friendly and caring.

    I haven’t had to deal with business first impressions in person in years but I’m someone who does show a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities so that in itself has helped me over the years.

    Your suggestions are great though and I appreciate you sharing your story with us. I’m glad you figured out how you needed to change things yourself and I have no doubt that people have a very good first impression of you.

    Hope your year started off well and you’ve been enjoying your weekend. See you next week.


    • Hi Adrienne,

      Wow! You being shy to begin with, is a bit of a hard thing for me to believe but I totally can imagine especially knowing where I come from πŸ™‚ Thank you for your own testimonial. And yes, you do make a pretty strong first impression, no questions!

      Thank you for your kind words of appreciation. And yes, I have had a great start of the year although I am still catching up to the speed after coming back from a month long vacation (jet lag and all that is going on still).


  11. Hello Kumar,

    The handshake, firm eye contact, use of first names and an even confident tone are what I use in establishing a firm, positive and I dare say, evergreen first impression.

    In terms of dress, I’m that guy who simply would not give a damn. But the clothes have to be smart Nevertherless. With this combination, there is nobody I’m yet to make a good first impression with – whether I’ve met them in familiar territory or not.


  12. Hi Kumar
    as i am an Entrepreneur, your this post has amazed me.
    These are very important steps that you have shared with us
    thanks you so much for such a nice post

  13. Yes Very true! Mr.Kumar,

    I am also victim of this first impression and it takes a while to prove and sometime don’t get an opportunity to see that person.
    Speak loud and bold with strong personality can really make a big difference in professional world.

  14. Great information Gauraw. Keep up the good work. I will apply your tips when i meet new people.

Please Note: My goal is to host interesting conversations with caring, honest, and respectful people. Therefore, I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic.