First impressions start to form before you even open your mouth. How you enter a room reveals information about your personality and intentions. In fact, studies suggest that we make major decisions about each other within the first 7 seconds of meeting, and nonverbal cues are far more influential than our words alone.
Learn how to size up your surroundings and demonstrate that you’re likeable and trustworthy. This 3-part formula will help you to work any room like a ninja from the second you walk in the door.
Understanding the Context
While some aspects of entering a room are universal, your exact approach will be determined by the setting. Figure out how to scale your efforts up or down.
Dress appropriately. Pay attention to the dress code. Your job interview may require a business suit. On the other hand, you want to avoid being overdressed for less formal occasions.
Gauge the mood. It’s fun to make others laugh at a cocktail party, but save the jokes for later if you’re appearing in traffic court. Consider other’s expectations and feelings.
Determine your role. Your behavior will be different depending on whether you’re the keynote speaker or a member of the audience. A memorable entrance backfires if you upstage the bride.
Be on time. Punctuality is preferable to being fashionably late. Develop a reputation for respecting others by being on time. Plus, showing up a little early can make it easier to strike up conversations before the crowd breaks up into smaller groups.
Looking strong and happy will attract others to you in any setting. Use your attitude and body language to convey your confidence.
- Clarify your purpose. Honing in on what you want to accomplish boosts your confidence immediately. You can concentrate on the benefits of the event rather than any social anxiety.
- Think pleasant thoughts. Let your body language convey that you’re glad to be there. Start by adopting a positive attitude. Visualize yourself having a good time and being productive.
Smile wide. You look more attractive when you’re smiling. Practice in a mirror until it feels natural.
Straighten up. Posture counts too. Hold your head high. Relax your shoulders and move them back slightly. Draw in your abdomen until you feel your chest lift a little.
Recover quickly. It’s easy to be confident when things are going well, but what happens if you trip or find out you have spinach stuck in your teeth? Acknowledge any mishaps quickly and move on.
Showing You Care
You’re more likely to generate favorable reactions when you take the first step and let others know that you’re interested in them. Focus on being friendly and appreciative.
- Look around. Scan the room instead of trying to slip in unnoticed. Acknowledge others with a nod or eye contact.
Introduce yourself. Maybe someone will greet you at the door or you’ll need to break the ice yourself. Unless you already know everyone there, challenge yourself to talk with at least one new person.
Dive in. Forget about scurrying off to the buffet or bathroom. Remember this is your opportunity to socialize or advance your career while you help others feel at ease too.
Exit gracefully. Finish up with an equally dignified departure. Make plans for staying in touch with old friends and new contacts. Thank your host before you leave and follow up with a phone call or note if warranted.
Enjoy social and business occasions more, make new friends, and grow your professional network. Knowing how to make a grand entrance will open doors to a brighter future.