As you settle into a new semester at American University, there will be many opportunities to meet new friends, professors, students, and co-workers. We asked Caron Martinez, director of the Kogod Center for Business Communications, and assistant director Shenandoah Sowash for their best tips to help everyone in the AU community make a positive first impression.
Seven Tips for Making a Positive First Impression
1. Be early to everything. Early is the new on-time. Giving yourself plenty of time to settle in before things get started at ANY event lets people know that you care and lets you be relaxed and prepared.
2. Smile. Even if you're not feeling it. A smile gives people the first clue into who you are and what kind of energy you have. Also, smiles are almost always met with (you guessed it)…more smiles.
3. Prepare a fun response to "How was your summer?" Sure, it was good. Probably. But "good" doesn't give people anything to work with. Say something pithy and fun and ask in return about the other person's summer. You know, reciprocity.
4. Make eye contact. Sustained eye contact is the first way humans connect with each other. Looking at your phone, at the floor, ceiling, or elsewhere makes you seem uninterested.
5. Don't distract. Most of us have some nervous habit (hair-twirling, foot shaking, pen-playing, etc.) that distracts the other person from paying attention to what we're saying. How to avoid? Try keeping your hands at your sides. It'll feel weird but it looks normal.
6. Embrace small talk. Building on #3, topics like one's summer, hobbies, or upcoming travel plans all help break the ice and make everyone feel comfortable. Small talk provides an important social purpose; use it to your advantage.
7. Remember the person's name and use it. People love to feel special, right? Use their name. Show them you heard them say it and that you remembered it. It's a small thing, but it makes a difference.
Keep these seven tips in your back pocket, and be yourself–we know that you’re going to make a great first impression.
For more coaching, support, and feedback, be sure to visit the Center for Business Communications at their new location in Kogod room T-34. Welcome back!