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It may be difficult exposing yourself to new situations and people, especially when you are uncertain of how or where you might fit in, but everyone feels a little nervous about showing themselves off in a room full of strangers.

Do you remember your first time tasting a slice of chocolate cake? Or going to an amusement park as a young child? We often look back on our first memories and experiences with a fondness and vividness that is incomparable to later experiences. We set a benchmark for certain things based on how we’ve perceived or experienced them before, such as hating country music tunes because Grandpa Jim always played it when he visited, or loving the taste of apple pie ever since you tried it in fifth grade.

Making an excellent and memorable first impression in the workplace can seem intimidating, and at times, impossible. How do you impress someone you’ve never met? How do you know what’s seen as tacky or offensive, or even worse, uninteresting? After securing a job, whether part-time, full-time or through co-operative education, the second hardest part about being hired is meeting everyone you’ll be working with and making a great first impression.

Here are some important things to keep in mind whether you’re meeting the CEO of the company or another employee whom you’ll be working with:

1. It’s Not About You

Well, yes, it is about you. But it’s also about everyone else you’re in the room with. Often, we get the idea that if we talk about ourselves a lot, we’ll quickly become close with the people we’re meeting because it lets them into our “inner circle” easily, right? Not quite! While it’s great to be comfortable and open, remember to give others a chance to speak up, and listen to what they have to say. Conversation is about the back-and-forth, and delivering a speech about yourself upon a first meeting is not tasteful.

2. Remember and Repeat

It’s important that you know who you’re interacting with. Whether you’re meeting someone high up on the ladder, or the receptionist at the front, it’s crucial that you show respect. Attempt to remember everyone’s names and positions to some degree. You never know who may help you when you need it most, and That-Tall-Brunette-Who-Works-At-The-Front-Desk won’t be happy if you ask for a favour without even trying to show a sign that you’re invested in who they are.

3. What Do You Represent?

Not only is it crucial that we convey our feelings and intentions well when meeting someone, but we must look the part as well. If you’re shaking hands with your employer wearing baggy jeans and tousled hair the first time you meet, your appearance will stick. Unfair as it may sound, people do judge books by their covers sometimes. If you look like you don’t fit in with the work culture, or seem as if you didn’t take the time to respect the dress code or prepare, your boss will remember that. And not in a good way.

4. Relax and Smile!

People often make the mistake of believing they are alone in the way that they feel. Believe it or not, the person meeting you is probably just as nervous! At the end of the day, your employer and coworkers are human too. They go home to their families and have lives outside of their jobs, and it helps to get to know them outside of work as well. Stay friendly and remind yourself that first impressions may be important, but each time you interact with someone, it builds upon that impression. You can always improve on relationships in and outside of the workplace, and that’s what matters. The seed you plant in the soil is only the first step, keeping your relationships blooming and growing is done through care, attention, and patience.

It may be difficult exposing yourself to new situations and people, especially when you are uncertain of how or where you might fit in, but everyone feels a little nervous about showing themselves off in a room full of strangers. These situations enable us to become more comfortable with what we have to offer, and with repeated practice and exposure, first impressions will steadily become second nature to you. Now THAT’S impressive.

SFU Student
Elvira Chan is a second year student majoring in Communication with a minor in Print & Digital Publishing. She’s a huge fan of Taylor Swift and knows all her lyrics, but promises not to fangirl about Taylor in her articles. A lover of novels, handwritten letters and all things winter, she hopes her articles will inspire students to take chances and help them each on their individual paths. Check out her blog at elvirachan11.wordpress.com

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