Woman and man talking over coffee

Your student and graduate years are some of the most pivotal times of your life. The activities you participate in, the experience you get, and the people you meet all have a profound impact on your life. The outcome of these life experiences is heavily dependent on the relationships you create with the people you come in contact with, especially in regard to your career path. 

This brings us to the importance of first impressions on your professional future. At any moment in time, you could meet someone who has the potential to influence your career path. A simple discussion with the right person could lead to an interview or even a job offer, so it’s crucial that you should be prepared to wow any professional you meet in order to better network your skills, show off your employability, and gain access to professional opportunities. So, take into consideration some of these ways you can make a good first impression on others:


Look professional and confident.

Did you know that 55% of the first impressions you make on others are influenced by your physical appearance? That means if you want the best chances of impressing others, you need to know how to exude confidence and professionalism through the way you look. Well-kept, healthy hair combined with an appropriate, stand-out outfit can help you emit confidence to others, and make a lasting impression. 

However, many people report that common health issues cause insecurities in their appearance, like male pattern baldness or severe acne in women. Looks-related issues like these can affect our self-esteem, and, ultimately, the comfort in our interactions. Don’t let self-doubt stand in your way of making a stellar first impression. Come to terms with your flaws, or seek treatments– whatever helps you become self-assured in what you bring to the table to stand out and impress. 


Ask questions!

Meeting someone for the first time can be understandably awkward, which is why it’s important that you establish a bond with newcomers as soon as you can in order to create a stronger relationship. In order to develop that bond, you need to ask questions. Without getting too personal, ask friendly ice-breakers that can help you find common ground. Ask where they’re from or about the last book they’ve read. 

Once you’ve gotten on their good side, feel free to ask about their career or professional history. Most importantly, it can be both informative for you and flattering for them, to request any career advice. A good conversation driven by a strong connection can leave a longstanding, positive effect on others. 


Watch your body language, too.

Body language expert Eliot Hoppe states that within seconds of meeting someone, the other person has already decided if they like you, if they trust you, and whom you remind them of. These conclusions they come to, whether you like them or not, can decide the fate of your conversation and the opportunities you take away from it; and your body language has a huge impact on those conclusions. Your non-verbal cues can either boost effective communication with others or seriously rub them the wrong way. 

That being said, a firm handshake and consistent eye contact can show respect toward other professionals. Studies have also shown that smiling and relaxing your brow can indicate trustworthiness and approachability, increasing the likeliness of your continued, beneficial relationship. Finally, make sure your posture reflects your confidence. Standing tall with your chest out, chin up, and pointed toward the other person will exhibit sophistication and professionalism. 

Keep these tips in mind when chugging through your final years before you begin your career. Your first impression can help you stand out to other professionals who can help you further your career, and you should take advantage of any opportunity to get a leg-up on your competition. Not to mention, a good first impression will give you the best odds for accessing professional opportunities and making some good friends along the way. 

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