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Do I Make a Good First Impression?: Everything I Learned From the Book “Captivate” By Vanessa Van Edwards

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Montclair chapter.

How do I introduce myself in a confident way? What should I say to not sound awkward or weird? What is this person’s name again, is it too late to ask? Should I give them my number or connect with them on LinkedIn? How do I effortlessly end a conversation without abruptly leaving?

I’m sure all of these questions have popped into your head when meeting someone for the first time or attending a networking event with a room full of important, influential people in the business world. You are not alone. For years, I have made it my mission to master the art of communicating with people. I used to be the person who thought about what I was going to say for ten minutes, then ended up saying nothing because I took too long to think about it. By the time I had the courage to say something, the conversation moved on to a completely new topic. I used to be the type of person who planned what I was going to say, like writing down all of my questions on a sticky note before dialing up someone on the phone. 

After reading the book “Captivate” by Vanessa Van Edwards, Lead Investigator at The Science of People, I gleaned so much useful and practical information on how to maximize social interactions and leave a lasting, memorable first impression. I am hoping these communication tips and tricks will help so many other people, who once went through the same dilemma I experienced. 

Set a Clear Intention Before Attending an Event or Meeting Someone

Before attending an event like a conference, party, or meeting people for the first time, think about the kind of people you want to meet and the type of interactions you want to have. Think about the type of energy you want to give off during the event. 

People judge the type of person you are based on the first tenth of a second of meeting you, so it is important to self reflect on the type of energy you want to give off. Go into the event thinking, “I want people to perceive me as charismatic, outgoing, kind or intelligent” and prepare ways you can authentically express these traits. If you want someone to perceive you as kind, then offer to help them with something: save them a seat, or grab them a drink. Every goal needs a plan. 

Stop Using Cliché Conversation Starters

We all have been asked the same questions for years: What’s your major? Where are you from? What do you do? Boring. People love being asked questions, but particularly questions that spark interest and excitement. Instead of asking these basic and cliché conversational questions, try asking someone “What personal passion projects are you working on?” or “What gets you up in the morning?” These questions are out of the ordinary. It will leave a memorable impression because people will not forget the person who asked them something personal, new, and different. People love talking about the things they love!

Perfect Your Handshake

A handshake is one of the first interactions of meeting someone or introducing yourself to someone new, so it is absolutely vital you have a proper handshake. Nonverbal communication is extremely important and weighs a larger impact on people than words do. First, make sure you are directly facing the person you are meeting, your hands are completely visible, and your arms are loose so you can effortlessly reach out to shake someone’s hand. A firm handshake communicates to people that you are calm, confident, and powerful.

Avoid Bad Days

If you are not in the mood to go to an event and meet new people, then do not go! Nothing is worse than forcing yourself to attend something and meet people when you do not have the energy or interest to do so. People will be able to sense your lack of enthusiasm and read your nonverbal body language. Always say ‘Yes’ to plans on a good day or a week where you have the energy and motivation to really try and get to know some new faces.

I live by these communication and first impression hacks and it has helped me tremendously. Reading about these tips and tricks is only one step of the process. Try to practice them and incorporate them into your daily interactions and see how much more comfortable you become.

An accomplished undergraduate student at Montclair State University pursuing a B.A. in Public Relations with a minor in Business Administration. Inspired by the world around me, I cover topics such as: politics, travel, and communication tips.
Lauren Clemente recent graduate from Montclair State University who studied Communication and Media Arts. She held the role of President and Co-Campus Correspondent, as well as Editor-in-Chief at Her Campus Montclair. She loves all things to do with content creation, fashion + beauty and traveling the world.