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When do we start learning about being on our best behavior, saying please and thank you and looking our best? For me I can remember as early as Kindergarten when my mom instructed me to be sure to say “thank you” when the cafeteria staff gave me my lunch at school or when she told me I was to write thank you notes after receiving any gift. These messages made such an impression I can almost picture the very moment I first attempted to make a good first impression.

So you might say that being aware of how I present myself was a bit of an obsession since age 5. And you wouldn’t be too far off. In Middle School I remember worrying about what I was going to wear to school for the upcoming week.  And in College my favorite memories are always times when I was able to help my peers and in turn they would express their appreciation and respect.

Making a good first impression (as well as a good lasting impression) has always been important to me and I hope it has for you as well. Below are some great ways to represent yourself well during an interview, networking event or on your first day of work:

#1 Be Considerate

Definitely use words like Please and Thank You. But also be on time and do not inconvenience others by keeping them waiting. Hold the door/elevator for others and knowledge the administrative staff when you arrive and also when you leave an interview.

#2 Be Genuine

Ask the person you’re meeting “how they are doing”or “how their day is going” and really want to know the answer to this question. Spend time recognizing what is going on around you and see if there is a way to show you care and want to help.

#3 Be Naturally Enthusiastic

Sure a great handshake, eye contact and a smile go a long way to showing you are present, smart, mature and interested, but you need to do all of these things in a natural way. The best way to go about this is to be yourself, take a deep breath and try not to stress. Nervousness does funny things to us verbally and non-verbally. So instead of worrying about the situation think of it as you are getting to know someone and you’re going to have a nice conversation.

#4 Be Present

We all have 10 million thoughts, worries, ideas and to-dos floating around our heads at all times (or at least I do). To be sure to make a good first impression you really need to focus on the task at hand. If that task is interviewing with a company- only think about that company and what you can contribute to the company- try to avoid thinking about the paper you have due in two hours or a trip you have planned for over the weekend.

#5 Be Open to Feedback

Lastly, ask your friends, professors, staff and alumni to give you feedback on how you come across. Don’t be afraid to ask this question because the answers can be so valuable to your growth. As always, you can depend on my office to help you through Mock Interviews – which is a great way to receive constructive feedback on the impression you make during an interview.