MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION 1. DRESS TO IMPRESS: The key here is to dress modestly and appropriately for the gathering you will be attending. For official gatherings, wear official dress. For casual but professional activities, wear khakis and a button down shirt. If you have an FFA polo to go with your khakis, that would be best. Make sure that your clothing is clean and fits well. The last thing you want to do is give off a negative impression before you even open your mouth. If you look sloppy, people will assume that you and your organization are sloppy as well. Look in the mirror before you meet people and make sure that your hair and makeup are straight and your clothing is in place. Don’t wear too much cologne or perfume! As sentinel, make sure all of your members are dressed appropriately and that they are neat and tidy. 2. GREET PEOPLE WITH A FIRM HAND SHAKE AND A SMILE: Practice shaking hands with people to be comfortable with different types of hand sizes and handshakes. Shake hands firmly, but do not squeeze the other person’s hand too hard. When shaking their hands, you’ll typically want to give 2 pumps. Not 3, not 1, 2. Any more you’re trying to be overbearing, any less and you’re shying away. Your firm handshake will cause the other person to counter with a firm handshake. Look the person in the eye and give them a big smile while doing so! 3. SPEAK CLEARLY: Be sure to communicate clearly with the people you are meeting. Few things are more annoying or detrimental than having to listen to someone without understanding what they are saying because they garble their words. Focus on speaking at a moderate pace, with a well-modulated voice. Do not be afraid to enunciate properly. Also, using proper grammar when speaking and avoiding slang is expected if you are to make a good first impression. Remember, if people can't comprehend what you are saying, they will disregard you and your organization. Furthermore, be polite and courteous at all times. 4. USE BODY LANGUAGE: The aforementioned UCLA study also found that "about 93% of a person's communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal communication." There are two important things to bear in mind here: posture and eye contact. Maximize your height by lifting your head and keeping your shoulders up to suggest that you are confident, assertive, and determined. Look interested and others' interest will follow. 5. USE THE NAME OF YOUR NEW AQUAITANCE FREQUENTLY: "Judy, I like that suggestion." "Your vacation must have been exciting, Fred." You show that you have paid attention from the start, catching the name during the introduction. Equally as important, you'll make conversations more personal by including the listener's name several times. 6. BE CAREFUL WITH HUMOR: Although a quip or two might serve as an icebreaker, stay away from sarcastic remarks that could backfire. Because you don't know a stranger's sensitivities, prolonged joking might establish barriers you can't overcome, either now or later. 7. BE A GOOD LISTENER: Being a good listener is not as complicated as most people think it to be. When having a discussion with someone, make sure to let him know, in a subtle manner, that you are paying attention to what is being said. Don't be afraid to nod your head and chime in with the occasional "I see," or "I understand," or any other verbal cue that shows the other person that you are indeed listening attentively. Also, feel free to ask questions (preferably non-threatening ones) if you are unsure of what the other person is trying to communicate. Also very important: do not interrupt when someone else is speaking. Interrupting someone in mid-sentence is extremely rude and will count as one strike against you in just about any social setting. ADAPTED FROM: www.askmen.com “How To Make A Strong First Impression: Seven Tips That Really Work” by Bill Lampton, Ph.D.