by Stephanie Poll

Whether you are meeting a new roommate for the first time, going in for a job interview, or meeting with a potential new client, you will only get one chance to make a first impression. Within a matter of seconds, you are evaluated completely, whether you realize it or not. These first few seconds will determine if and how a relationship develops. First impressions about people often turn into long-lasting perceptions and reputations.

But don’t become overwhelmed or stressed about first impressions. If you want your first encounter to go well, just keep a few things in mind:

•  Be Accessible : Create a positive mood by being in the moment, adapting to each social situation. And never forget to SMILE!

•  Show Interest : Listen actively, make eye contact and ask questions!

•  Choose Appropriate Subject Matter : During the first conversation, talk about neutral topics such as your immediate surroundings. That will make the transition into the pertinent ideas of discussion easier.

•  Self-Disclose Appropriately : Share basic information about yourself, your vulnerabilities, passions, interests, faults, etc., to the extent that it matches the depth of what the others are sharing.

•  Converse Dynamically : Allow others to express themselves while adding a complementary amount of feedback.

•  Use Perspective : Be flexible with unexpected circumstances and show responsibility for your own situation.

Make your first impression count by using creative imagination. Athletes have done this for years, visualizing a flawless performance before a big event. Use this visualization for the days preceding a first meeting. It will help you generate confidence, power, and relaxation, so you will present yourself in the most effective way possible.

One other important thing that I have realized about first impressions: be yourself! Being yourself is the true test of whether the relationship is going to be a fit, socially or in the business world.