A Polished Professional

Strangers Everywhere? Make a Positive First Impression!

This past week, I attended a protocol training course. On the first day of the course, the organization hosted an “Opening Night” which consisted of a welcome social. I had prepared for the course for quite a while, but that evening, I realized I did not know anyone attending and I suddenly got nervous. What was I going to do when I walked into a room full of people I did not know? The majority would be older than me and much more experienced in the field. As we have all been told, “You only get one chance at a first impression.” I wanted to make a positive first impression on these new professional colleagues and not show the nerves I felt!

After thinking about it for a while before arriving and then reflecting on the experience afterwards, I came up with the following tips on how to successfully navigate these types of first interactions:

  1. Be confident!
    • When you walk into the room, stand tall with your shoulders back and smile. Do not play with your hair, jewelry, or clothing and do not be on your phone or any other tech device. Fidgeting can relay nervousness or apprehension – even if you are, do not show it!
    • Do not burst through the doors like a diva demanding attention. Instead, walk in gracefully and make eye contact with the others in the room. Most importantly, remember to smile!
  2. Find an Individual or a Group of People to Join
    • Look around the room to find another individual who is there by him/herself or a group of individuals who appear to be talking casually.
      • Do not choose a group who looks to be “too tight” and deeply engaged in a personal conversation. Groups like that may be dear friends catching up or coworkers discussing office matters and joining their conversation can set you up for failure seeing as you do not know the background details to equally contribute to the conversation.
    • Once you have found an inviting individual or group, approach and ask, “May I join you?” Most individuals are more than happy to meet someone new!
  3. Introduce Yourself!
    • Once you have found an individual or group, make eye contact with someone and extend your hand. Give a gentle yet affirming handshake (you do not want to crush someone’s hand, but you also do not want to be like a wet noodle!). Keep eye contact during the handshake and introduce yourself.
    • When you tell someone your name, use your first and last name! Your last name anchors you as a person and makes a more professional statement. Using your last name also sets you apart from anyone else in the room who may have the same first name as you. Equally as important, state your first name as you like to be called.
      • For example, my name is Alexandra and I prefer to be called Alexandra, NOT Alex. Therefore, I always introduce myself saying, “Hi! I am Alexandra Bitonti.” If I am introduced by someone else and he or she refers to me as “Alex,” I politely extend my hand and say, “Nice to meet you, I am Alexandra.” so the new individual hears my name as I like to be known.
  4. Prepare Easy Conversation Starters
    • Think of a few easy, friendly questions or talking points you can use to start a conversation.
      • “Where do you work? What do you do?” – At business gatherings, this is great for networking. After all, it is why you are there!
      • “Where are you from?” – If you have been there before, chat about the city. If not, ask about the area.
      • “Have you taken any vacations this summer or do you have one planned?” – People love to talk about their travels!
      • “Where did you go to school?” – If it is football season (or any other sport’s season), school pride and sports are a great conversation starter and can lead into a variety of other topics. **Go Terps!**

Overall, the biggest takeaway from this is to be confident when meeting new people! Tell yourself, “I have got this,” smile big, and then walk tall into the room and show everyone just how much you shine!

I hope these tips help give you extra confidence to make a positive and memorable first impression! If you have any questions or there is something I have not mentioned here, please leave a comment. I love hearing from my readers!

Sparkle On,



5 thoughts on “Strangers Everywhere? Make a Positive First Impression!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s