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  • Tuesday, December 20, 2016 4:05 AM | Deleted user

    Making a great first impression can be tough, especially if you’re a little on the shy side. It can be uncomfortable to try to meet people we don’t know. How do we get past that initial awkward greeting? And how do we make sure that we aren’t a forgettable face in a sea of business cards?

    There are a few key steps we can take to make a great first impression, and what’s more, we can do it in a fun and friendly way. Here are a few things you can start implementing immediately:

    Focus on Them

    When you take the focus off of yourself and put it on someone else, you immediately make them feel special. Believe it or not, almost everyone likes to talk about themselves. Not because we’re particularly narcissistic or self-centered, but because it feels good to be noticed. Show someone that you genuinely care about getting to know them, and what they’ll take away from having met you is how you made them feel. Don’t overthink this, you can make it fun by saying things like, “I love your shoes, and I’ve been looking for a pair just like them! How do you like yours? Do you mind if I ask where you got them, and do you mind if we both show up to the same place wearing them?!”

    Adjust Your Body Language

    This one is critical. Our body language says more than our words ever do. Show you’re approachable and friendly by smiling, making and holding eye contact, and not slouching or standing too rigid. Also, keep in mind that crossing your arms is putting up a barrier. However insecure you’re feeling, try to put your hands on your hips or down at your sides. Be sure to lean in and nod your head to show you’re actively listening.

    Be Prepared

    When you’re going in to a situation where you know you’ll be meeting new people for the first time; conferences, networking events, trade shows, it’s a good idea to be prepared with a short introduction about yourself and what you do. Keep this to less than 10 seconds, but also find a fun way to explain it. Maybe instead of saying, “I own my own store”, how about, “I opened a great little boutique not far from here, and I get to spend my day showing people how to pair cute boots with a great pair of skinny jeans.” After introducing yourself, immediately shift your attention back to them.


    This may seem a little strange, but yes, read. Whatever you can get your hands on, as long as it helps you stay up on current news and trends. You don’t have to be a voracious reader, or be well-read. Hemingway is lovely, but what you need is a quick snapshot of what’s going on in your industry and in the world around us. It can be something as simple as a short article or blog post. That way you’ll be in the loop when people are talking about the latest Seth Godin book or what just happened in Japan. Even if it’s something as silly as what the Kardashian’s are up to, being up on current events helps you appear knowledgeable and sometimes fun, and also provides some common ground to get started on.

    Do the Approaching

    It may feel more natural to wait to be approached, but you’ll risk missing out if you don’t take the initiative to do the approaching. Look for someone who is alone and go ahead and introduce yourself. Or, if you’re already in a group of people and notice folks hovering around the periphery, open the circle and invite them in. Talk about letting someone know you’re friendly!

    Be Kind

    While this would appear to go without saying, I’m betting we’ve all experienced a few first impressions of folks who came off as anything but kind. It’s too bad, but that’s exactly what happens when we’re not allowing our interaction to be fun. Even in an interview, it’s okay to come across as fun and friendly. Warm, approachable people appear more trustworthy and honest. That sounds like a great first impression to me.


    Remember not to make this more difficult than it has to be. You can make a great first impression in a fun, friendly way by being yourself, and putting others at ease. Smile, take the focus off of you, be genuinely interested without any expectations of what you can “get” out of the encounter, and you’ll be making excellent first impressions in no time.

  • Monday, December 19, 2016 12:54 PM | Kristy Moffat

    Susan Davenport, President/CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, will be GAWN's featured speaker at our luncheon on January 18.  Please join us for lunch and learn more about the Chamber's vision and mission for this area. Registration is available here.

    The Gainesville Area Chamber is a five-star accredited Chamber of Commerce with more than 1,300 members. Susan oversees the strategic operations of the Chamber, and guides a team of vice presidents and directors in the oversight of the organization’s programs, initiatives and day-to-day operations.

    In 2015, Susan was promoted to her current role after serving for two years as the Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development. Since her arrival in 2013, the Chamber’s Council for Economic Outreach has announced the creation of more than 1,000 jobs and more than $400 million in new  capital investment.

    Susan came to Gainesville in 2013 after spending 13 years with the Austin Chamber of Commerce, most recently as Senior Vice President of Global Tech Strategies. While there she served as a key team member for the Opportunity Austin strategy which created over 174,000 new jobs and enhanced regional payrolls by $8.7 billion over an 8-year period from 2004-2012. During her tenure in Austin she developed and executed Austin’s regional business retention and expansion program, Portfolio Austin, where over 4,800 regional retention visits were undertaken with 520 regional expansions tracked. She also developed and managed the Central Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization, which resulted in assisting 34 companies accessing $60 million in funding with an additional $30 million for local research and university projects. Susan also developed the Greater Austin Technology Partnership and Austin TechLive, which engaged over 100 regional technology executives in various economic development activities and supported entrepreneurism through a downtown co-working technology hub partner.

    Susan received a Master of Public Affairs from The University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from The University of Texas Medical Branch. She is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and is associated with the International Economic Development Institute.

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