You already know that making a good first impression is the key to creating valuable connections and getting ahead in life.
That much is clear.
But how are you meant to do that when you don’t know what to say, and you’re feeling nervous?
How are they meant to like you?
Well, according to emotional intelligence expert, Harvey Deutschendorf, there are five essential things you need to do when you first meet someone.
Check them out…
1) Show genuine enthusiasm
Get your energy up. Because if it’s not, you can come off as rude, distant and snobbish.
But I know. The trouble is that anxiety and nervousness can cause us to act distant and cold.
So what can you do?
Unfortunately, there’s only one way to get through it: Fake it till you make it.
Put a smile on that dial and open your body language.
An easy trick is to have something prepared to say before meeting them, even if it’s something small.
That way, you can focus on your body language, rather than scanning your mind for something to say.
So in short, open your body language, offer them a firm handshake with a big grin, and have a nice prepared greeting. It’s that easy.
Now for the 2nd step…
2) Offer a compliment
I’m not talking about complimenting their physical appearance. That’s lame, and you’ll come off as hitting on them.
Instead, we are going to search for something meaningful to compliment them. And the only way to find something meaningful about them is to ask questions.
You can ask simple questions, such as ‘what’s your job?’ or ‘do you have any kids?’ When they start revealing more about their life, you’ll find something to compliment them with.
It will break the ice and make them feel good about themselves. In the end, that should be the goal of any interaction.
3) Ask at least two open-ended questions
We’ve all had those conversations that fizzle quicker than they started. The problem is usually that no open-ended questions were asked to get the conversation flowing.
Open-ended questions can’t be answered with “yes” or “no”. They require a little more thought.
For example, a close-ended question would be, “Do you like chocolate?” whereas an open-ended question would be, “How do you feel about, chocolate?”
An open-ended question allows you to get into a long conversation about chocolate.
It’s merely a matter of how you phrase the question. Keep in mind that open-ended questions usually begin with how, what or why.
Here are some examples:
“What factors you take into account when ________?” or
“What made you ____?” or
“In your opinion, what is a reasonable way to ________?” or
“How would you describe ______?” or
“Why did you choose to _______?”
Asking these kinds of questions will help you get to know them for who they truly are.
4) Find something you share in common
It’s so much easier to connect with someone when you talk about something you have in common. It develops rapport and makes the conversation interesting.
But commonalities aren’t always obvious, but with some cognitive effort, you’ll be able to find them.
For example, the other week I met a champion weightlifter at the gym. Since I have zero interest in weightlifting, it wouldn’t have been wise to start speaking about weightlifting because I wouldn’t be enthused about the topic.
But I do love eating. So I asked him what he eats before and after a major weight session. It made the conversation so much more interesting for both of us than the normal, “How’s your week?”
While similar sharings might not always be easy to find, keep in mind five things you like talking about, and it’s likely you’ll be able to weave them into the conversation in a way that gets them excited too.
5) Repeat their name and commit key facts to memory
How many times have you forgotten someone’s name just after meeting them?
Don’t worry; it happens to all of us.
But this is great because you can separate yourself from everyone else by remembering their name.
Everybody loves the sound of their name, so sprinkle it in whenever you get a chance.
At the very least, make sure to mention their name before you leave: “Really great meeting you, Michelle.”
You can do the same with critical facts you’ve learned about someone. If you can repeat something you’ve learned about them in the first few minutes, they’ll likely think you’re a terrific person that’s interested in them.
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