How to Make a Good First Impression: Tips From Vanessa Van Edwards, Founder of Science of People

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How to make a good first impression
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Summary: Learning how to make a good first impression prompts a great connection on a date, at work, or with new people. Vanessa Van Edwards shows you how to do so.

It’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover. However, a great cover with a great plot may double up its success, right? 

Learning how to make a good first impression can do exactly that—set you up for success in your future interactions. It’s like getting hyped over an event like Burning Man or Mindvalley University and discovering the wonders on the other side.

So how can you make a good first impression? This is where the expertise of Vanessa Van Edwards, behavioral investigator and trainer of Mindvalley’s Magnetic Charisma Quest, comes in handy. As the founder of Science of People, she’s dedicated to training people on how to develop the best social skills to advance in business, life, and love.

All it takes is learning a few simple skills that will level up the way you interact. From there, you may just find that connecting with people is as easy as said and done.

Vanessa Van Edwards on how to make a good first impression
Vanessa Van Edwards, trainer of Mindvalley’s Magnetic Charisma Quest

How to Make a Good First Impression in Any Situation

In an episode of The Mindvalley Podcast, Vanessa explains there are similar principles to sparking awe online and offline. Here are her tips on how to make an excellent first impression in various situations.

How to make a good first impression on a date

A key component of a wonderful dating experience is connection. And one easy way to ensure that connection will be created is to focus on oxytocin

Why? “Oxytocin is the chemical feeling of connection,” Vanessa explains.

A few ways to prompt the brain to release this feel-good chemical are:

  • Touch. Even on a first date, a light touch on the arm or knee will increase the feeling of connection and create a safe space to open up and be more vulnerable.
  • Eye contact. One of the well-known dating tips is maintaining eye contact with the person you want to feel close to. According to a 2019 study, eye contact has been shown to increase the level of arousal and openness to bond with the other person.
  • Oxytocin statements. In her research, Vanessa noticed that saying things such as “sending you a hug” or “it’s so good to connect with you, I wish I could give you a hug” during online interactions increased other people’s engagement by 71%.

    So next time you meet someone virtually for the first time before you may go on an actual date, saying or texting some oxytocin statements will make them feel more comfortable and connected.

We like people who give us a dose of oxytocin because we feel connected, seen, and valued.

— Vanessa Van Edwards, trainer of Mindvalley’s Magnetic Charisma Quest

How to make a good first impression at work

When it comes to your work environment, Vanessa highlights a few rules that will enhance a positive impression when you meet someone, either face-to-face or during an online call.

  • Be aware of spatial boundaries. There are four spatial zones that Vanessa puts emphasis on: the intimate zone, the personal zone, the social zone, and the public zone. It’s essential not to stand too close to someone from the beginning as it might make them feel vulnerable and inappropriate.

Rather, place yourself in the personal zone, which is ideally one to five feet away from the person you’re interacting with. This also applies to video calls in the sense that sitting too close to the camera might translate unconsciously to the other person as invading their private space. Ideally, you should frame yourself in a call as far as your upper body language can be read.

  • Be aware of your tone of voice. Being self-aware is essential to making a great first impression. Vanessa advises paying attention to how you sound when you make an important statement. Avoid using question inflections on statements that need to sound convincing; for example, when pitching a new project idea and presenting to the investors what the required funds are.
  • Gestures are part of effective communication. A great percentage of communication is actually nonverbal. This is why your hand gestures and body language are as important as the words you use. Vanessa and her research team found out that one of the things the best TED talks had in common was: the proper use of hand gestures. So the next time you meet someone, make sure that your gestures are active and seem natural.
  • Focus on how interactive your communication is. When meeting someone for the first time, especially when delivering a presentation, you should focus on how much you engage your audience. Studying 495 speeches on the Shark Tank show, Vanessa concluded that the most successful pitchers were the ones who interacted the most with the sharks.

How to make a good first impression with new friends

When making new friends, you may be the most relaxed when it comes to having a positive first interaction. Here are a couple of tips to ensure a pleasant connection from the beginning:

  • Remember people’s names. How do you feel when someone calls you by your name after just introducing yourself one time? Whenever you truly give someone you meet your genuine attention, you can make them feel seen and valued. 
  • Pick a great conversation starter. Instead of asking someone you just met where they are from or what they do professionally, come up with something more creative. You can try these questions instead:
  1. What personal passion project are you working on?
  2. Have you got anything exciting coming up in your life?
  3. What’s your story?

Setting yourself up for success in future interactions and relationships only requires a few more things to pay attention to. You can apply these principles and see how they improve your first impression when meeting new people.

For more tips and tricks from Vanessa, listen to the full podcast episode:

3 Reasons Why Good First Impressions Matter

We all might have met people who we didn’t like in the beginning but completely changed our opinions after spending more time together — and that’s okay. However, focusing consciously and intentionally on how to make a good first impression can make a huge difference. 

How you present yourself when you begin any kind of relationship matters. Here’s why:

  • The primacy effect. People have a tendency to focus on the first thing they experience in a sequence of events — it’s a psychological effect. That means they will remember the first interaction with another person more vividly than the ones that follow.
  • People determine your qualities. “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” says James Uleman, a psychology professor at New York University and researcher on impression management. Studies have found that people made up their minds on whether they thought someone was trustworthy, competent, charismatic, or likable from the first 100 milliseconds they met.
  • 95% of people believe first impressions are important. At the Science of People Research Lab, statistics show that 95% of people believe in the first opinion they formed after meeting someone for the first time. So most people will pay attention to the first impression they get on someone they have just met, be it professionally, romantically, or in social situations.

The truth is that you may change your opinion of someone, or they might change their opinion of you. But adding that extra care and attention to how you present yourself will only bring more positive results and powerful connections.

How to make a good first impression online

How to Recover From a Bad First Impression

Vanessa shares with you that she is a “recovering awkward person.” One strategy for bouncing back from a bad first impression she recommends is working on your charisma, which will only enhance your future magnetism to the people you want to impress.

Here are three ways you can start:

1. Surround yourself with the right people and situations

Vanessa highlights that recovering from a bad first impression is sometimes also a matter of realizing that you need to put yourself into situations that make you thrive. 

Wasting your charismatic energy on people who are toxic or who just don’t resonate with you won’t make your life flourish in any way, shape, or form.

On the other hand, a profound epiphany that you should strive to make a good impression, but only to those who truly matter, will create some healthy boundaries. And from there, you can consciously redirect your energy to where and who is actually adding value to your life.

2. Consider people’s personality types

Maybe you’ve made a bad impression on someone you’d really love to have in your life. In this case, a little more awareness of the situation may come into help.

For example, Vanessa advises you to consider whether people are high or low in openness. 

  • People who are high in openness are explorers. They love experimenting and going on adventures. Surprise them with new things to try.
  • People who are low in openness are preservers. They love predictability, routine, and tradition. Avoid too many surprises. 

So if you’ve made a bad first impression but still trying to connect, learn more about who they are and adapt your interaction with them.

You can do the same thing regarding all the other big five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, extroversion, and agreeableness.

3. Change your narrative

Make sure you don’t unconsciously only focus on the negative. That’s a huge part of nurturing your charisma and ensuring future positive experiences with other people.

Watching how you express yourself, especially with new people, may be key to presenting yourself as the most likable version of who you are. Do you often point out small things that you don’t like about your environment? Things like “it’s so cold in here,” “the music is so loud,” or “it’s so difficult to understand.” 

Even if they are small things that don’t purposely matter so much, people will naturally be more drawn to those who give out positive energy. And if you focus on creating more positive energy within yourself, you might be surprised about how much the impression you’ve made on someone can change.

Good first impression

Make an Impression, Start With Yourself

Making a great first impression and becoming your most charismatic self is not as difficult as it may seem to be. But a little guidance along the way has never hurt anybody.

Here’s where Mindvalley comes into play. With the guidance and expertise of Vanessa Van Edwards in the Magnetic Charisma Quest, you can discover:

  • The fastest way to master the skill of charisma
  • Where charisma really comes from
  • What really makes a person memorable
  • How to create instant and meaningful empathy
  • How to influence others with respect and reverence
  • The scientific keys to overcoming social and public speaking anxiety
  • How to build great networks and relationships

And by claiming your free access today, you can sample out trial classes from this program and many others. The best thing about it all is that you don’t have to do it alone. You can be part of a loving community of people who share the same hopes and struggles along the way.

Don’t be afraid to take the first step. Your best self is waiting for you.

Watch the First Lesson of the Quest

Magnetic Charisma With Vanessa Van Edwards

Master the hidden rules of human behavior, and gain the magnetic charisma to inspire, impact, and influence anyone and everyoneGet started for free

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor is a former content writer for Mindvalley and a psychology enthusiast. From clinical experience working with both children and adults, she's now in the process of becoming a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in the IFS method and family constellation therapy.
Written by

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor is a former content writer for Mindvalley and a psychology enthusiast. From clinical experience working with both children and adults, she's now in the process of becoming a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in the IFS method and family constellation therapy.
Vanessa Van Edwards
Expertise by

Vanessa Van Edwards is the trainer of Mindvalley’s Magnetic Charisma Quest. She is also the national best-selling author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People, which has been translated into 16 languages. As founder of Science of People, Vanessa’s YouTube videos have been seen by over 35 million people. She speaks to audiences around the world, including companies like Google, Dove, Microsoft, and Comcast.

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