How do you know if you’re making a great first impression, whether in your personal or professional life? Here are seven tips.

My college-aged niece invited her boyfriend to visit for a weekend at our family’s house on Cape Cod.

From the start, he had a lot riding against him: a six-hour-turned-10-hour drive through lots of traffic, the nervous feeling of seeing his girlfriend for the first time in a couple of months, and the added anxiety of meeting her extended family.

But he arrived upbeat, enthusiastic, well put together, and didn’t waste any time getting to know us.

It got me thinking about the importance of making a lasting first impression in both our personal and professional lives.

Seven Tips to Make a Great First Impression

We are all familiar with the saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” But how do you know you’re making a great first impression? Here are seven tips:

1. Be prepared

Do your homework! Prepare a few talking points. What are your goals? Think about what you want to learn and what you want others to learn about you.

If you are going on an interview, research the company ahead of time. If you are trying to network through LinkedIn, personalize your message. Mentioning something you have in common will boost your response rate, even if it’s just something that impresses you about their background or a shared interest.

If meeting with a new client, do some research on the client – learn what you can about the person you are meeting with and their role. What makes them interesting? What are their challenges? How might you help? And, remember to be on time!

2. Smile often

According to research, 48% of adults think a smile is the most memorable feature after they meet someone for the first time. A pleasant and confident smile puts both parties at ease. Also, the sound of a smile comes through in your voice. So, if your meeting is over the phone be sure to smile while you are talking.

3. Maintain eye contact

Looking someone in the eye conveys that you are confident and interested in what they have to say. Looking away too much will make you appear distracted.

4. Use “open” body language

Research suggests that 80% of our communication is non-verbal, meaning the body language we use will create an impression on others before we even open our mouth.

To make sure it’s a good one, try to maintain “open” body language – such as uncrossing your arms and legs and angling your body towards the other person – which will make you seem more approachable, relaxed and open to conversation.

5. Practice active listening

Show you are engaged in the conversation by allowing others to feel like their thoughts are heard and understood. People love to talk about themselves. Listening intently will allow you to ask thoughtful questions and get to know the other person.

6. Remember your manners

Good manners and being humble always leave a great first impression.

7. Most importantly, be yourself!

Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. By being yourself, you will be more confident, build trust, and earn respect from the people you meet.

Final Thoughts

Research shows the first seven seconds in which you meet somebody is when you’ll make an impression.

So, whether it’s meeting your girlfriend’s family, networking, interviewing, or starting a new project, put these tips to good use so you can be remembered in the right way!