Think of a first date like a job interview. You're applying for a vacant position and certainly, you'd want to impress the interviewer and show that you're the right man for the job. Would you then turn up for the meeting looking like you're heading for a cup of teh tarik at the local kopi tiam? You need to wow them, and have them at "Hello".
Anisa Hassan, managing director of It's Just Lunch Asia, says, "Whether you’re in a social or professional setting, leaving a good first impression could go a long way in helping you open many doors of opportunities." Whether those opportunities are an office promotion or an invitation back to her place, these are her tips to help you leave an indelible mark on anybody's mind.
Have you ever been made to wait for a date or for an appointment before? Not a nice feeling, is it? Regardless how valid your excuse is for being late, Anisa warns that tardiness can be easily misconstrued as a lack of respect for the other person's time. "In a fast moving world where 24 hours is no longer enough for busy professionals to get work done, a 5 minute delay could feel like eternity." She makes the following suggestion, "Planning on being early leaves a better first impression than being late."
Present Yourself Properly
A firm handshake exudes a certain level of confidence from the other party you're meeting, says Anisa. So, beyond dressing well, be comfortable and at ease with yourself. Follow up the handshake with a "disarming smile to make yourself friendly and approachable." The most important thing to remember is to maintain eye contact, Anisa says. "Maintaining eye contact shows that you're involved in the communication process and not easily distracted by your surroundings."
Don't Be A Know-It-All, But Be Interesting
Talking about who's leading the Barclays Premier League or reminiscing about National Service days may be alright with your buddies, but you're going to bore others if these are all the topics you can talk about. Read up and get yourself updated on the latest news and happenings. "If you’ve polished up on your current affairs, starting the conversation by asking a question rather than making a statement allows you to gauge if the other party is ready to engage," says Anisa. "By asking “What do you think of…” rather than “I think that…” displays a level of respect for the other party."
She explains,"Generally, people are not interested to know what you know. It’s just human nature." But think twice before you bring up certain topics. "Sensitive-laden questions relating to personal life, politics and religion are better left for subsequent meetings once you have established a certain comfort level," recommends Anisa.
Listen More Than You Speak
"Active listening is an art in itself. Too often we are uncomfortable with pregnant pauses or awkward silences because we’re busy filling the gaps in the conversation," observes Anisa. "This presents a danger as we could potentially say the wrong thing at the wrong time, unwittingly. Taking a moment to pause and consider what the other party is talking about bears more weight than being light, smarmy and superficial in our responses." By becoming a better listener, the other party may even find you a better conversationalist, she says.
Show Appreciation Of Her Time
A first meeting should be short and sweet, says Anisa. "If you’re out on a date, an hour is enough for you to form an impression if you ever want to see her again for the second time." In the business world, long meetings are a waste of time. You need to be clear about the objectives of the meeting, she says. "When you show that you are able to stay the course and stay within the time frame necessary to close the deal or start the work rolling, you earn the respect of the other party."