In the first few seconds of meeting people, whether in person or online, they are forming lasting opinions of you based on your appearance, body language, and behavior.
You can do the following six things with your body language to make a good first impression, according to Andres Lares, managing partner at consulting firm Shapiro Negotiations Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
Maintain an open posture. Open postures are generally perceived as positive, so to make a good first impression, stand or sit up straight with your hands at your sides or on the arms of your chair. Make sure to face the people you are meeting directly, and keep your arms and legs uncrossed. If you’re meeting over a video conferencing platform or Facetime, make sure to sit up straight and give eye contact while you or the other person is speaking. This also means choosing the right background – clean is good but bare walls is bad as it gives the other party nothing to connect with.
Don’t jump right to business
Small talk is what builds rapport. It is the gel that connects people and allows others to trust you, said Lares. Remember, you can always email a proposal later so use the time on video to get to know the person and their needs.
Smile for the camera
Smiling shows you enjoy people and are glad to meet them; people who smile are seen as kinder and warmer as well. Smiling when you meet people can also have a powerful impact, too. Some research suggests that people’s smile is one the most memorable things about meeting them in personal and professional relationships. However, make sure your smile is sincere.
Most prefer in-person meetings to video, but video does have many other advantages (cost and time being two of the biggest) so it’s here to stay. To take the most advantage of video calls, it requires a positive mindset. To help this along, before a meeting, check your equipment to make sure there are no snares and it’s working perfectly. Then do an activity you enjoy such as going for a walk, or listening to your favorite music. This will relax you and help you in a positive mindset.
Always have an agenda and questions
An agenda gives an impression of someone being organized and helps to keep the meetings on track (so that you have more time for the personal rapport building at the beginning) and the questions help to make sure your mindset is not one of talking the entire time but instead engaging the other side.
Develop online brand
People will look you up on LinkedIn, and other places, before you speak for the first time so make sure you have a strong online presence. Consider a few posts and articles, in addition to the minimums of having a good picture and complete bio. And, equally, make sure to look up whoever you are going to speak with. This will help to give you context: what school they went to, how long they have been at the company, along with other relevant information.