First Impressions: 4 Tips to Make Em Better

I love people.

Anyone that knows me knows that while it may not be the most comfortable thing to me, I love meeting new people.

Whether it be the Wal Mart cashier, a guest at church, or someone I’ve met through a friend, I always love meeting new people for the first time.

Through observing myself and how others greet me for the first time, I thought I’d outline 4 keys to making a good first impression. Keep in mind, these may vary depending on culture, age, etc…

1. Eye contact – Always make eye contact. Looking them in the eyes tells them that they’re Important to you and that you really do have interest in getting to know them. It says to me that I’m not just someone you have to meet, but I’m someone you want to get to know.

2. Firm handshake – Men, shake hands… for real. No wimpy handshake. I think my generation has forgotten this. If you’re shaking my hand, give it to me firm. It tells me that you’re serious about meeting me and that you value my time. Of course, use some common sense here too… it’s not a battle of hand strength.

3. Smile – This should go without saying, but I always make sure I smile when I first meet someone. I want them to know that I’m happy to meet them. I may not be the most comfortable person in the world at that moment, but I want them to be comfortable with me.

4. Repeat their name – After the initial introduction, repeat the person’s name during the rest of the conversation. It makes me feel valued when people I just met know my name. I stink with names, but I can remember a new person’s name long enough to repeat it back to them.

What other advice do you have for making a good first impression? Please share!


  1. Ask an open-ended question to get them talking about themselves, if appropriate.

    I met a man at is work station last spring and I noticed pictures of his family on his desk. I asked how old the boys were and his face lit up as he talked about his 3-year-old twins and his wife! It became a great open door to get to know each other a little in that brief encounter.

    I absolutely LOVE this list, Jonathan. YES, YES, YES on that handshake! I HATE whimpy handshakes, especially from men! My 8th grade Careers teacher taught us how to have a firm handshake and I get compliments on it probably 90% of the time. I think it’s so important.

  2. I absolutely love this post!! It will be filed in my favorites. Tips that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.
    Have a great day!

  3. Eye contact and repeating the person’s name are huge for me. I suck at remembering names, unless it’s one of those things where I’m spending a lot of time with the person the first time I meet them (i.e. – conference, retreat, small group, etc).

  4. While playing music with a couple different dudes this summer all over – I got to practice my ‘how can I make this First Impression better?’ skills.

    I found that being ‘the band’ people already have a preconceived notion of who you are. And if you don’t at least do those four things you mentioned (hugging girls sometimes) – then you will be written off as a jerk or something. No good.

    I have also found that due to my blog, and Twitter presence, people who meet me in real life expect a certain type of guy always full of wisdom and maybe some humor. While I try to keep this going (its just who I am, really) – people need to understand that we are only human. We have off days, and we have times when we don’t have a great First Impression.

    I would say that the second meeting of an individual is the most important. That’s when I feel special when someone remembers my name.

    (sorry for this long comment! lol)

  5. evie

    All great pointers.
    I sometimes try draw them out (without being too nosey) and then end our meeting with a sincere compliment or some form of encouragement. A lot of people who have encouraged me along the way, I’ve not so easily forgotten.

  6. This is a great list!
    My two favorites are the eye contact and firm handshake. From a very young age my mother taught me to look people in the eyes. You would be amazed at the number of people that feel uncomfortable with a person years younger than them looking them in the eyes… ha
    Also, nobody likes “jello” handshake especially coming from a man! Don’t you just love those awkward handshakes where older women grab your hand mid-motion so it ends up being a finger shake? One of my pet peeves for sure. I think repeating someone’s name is a great idea, keeps things real! Hopefully I will be able to remember it for at least the conversation!

  7. You’ve definitely created a great list. As someone who feels a little intimidated to meet new people, I used to worry about how I came across. Now, I try to ask them a couple of questions about their life and their story (without coming across as too nosy) because I’m really interested. That allows me to be more relaxed and remove the focus from my own nervousness because I truly enjoy meeting people from all walks of life!


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