7 Simple Ways to Make a Great Impression


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Being a good people person is essential.  This is true no matter what you want to do or where you want your life to go.

Impressions matter.  Whether you’re interviewing for a job or trying to close a big business deal, you want to make sure you give off the best impression possible.

The good news is that it doesn’t take as much as you might think.  There are actually some surprisingly simple things you can do to wow other people.

1. Do What You Say You Will

It’s amazing how often people say they will do something, but never actually do it.

This is a common complaint I hear a lot.  It’s reached a point to where most of us fully expect people won’t follow through on what they say.

So it’s always a wonderful surprise when someone actually does.

It’s such a simple way to stand out from the crowd.  It also makes you seem like a reliable and trustworthy person.

It can be something simple like dropping off a book or calling when you say you will.

All too often people say they will do something but never actually follow through.  Be that person who actually does.

2. Remember People’s Names (And Use Them)

We attach special importance to our own name.  It’s part of our identity and helps us differentiate ourselves.

When you remember someone’s name and use it with them, you make them feel important.  By using their name, you’re acknowledging that you thought they were special enough to get their name down.

Remembering names can be hard.  That’s especially true if you are introduced to new people on a regular basis.

But it really means a lot to the other person if you do remember it.

You don’t want to fake your way through it or use a generic term like “guy”.  I knew someone who would do that so he didn’t have to remember names.  Not surprisingly, he didn’t make many friends.

3. Show Genuine Interest

I used to have an employer who would routinely ask his employees about their day.  Before they could adequately respond, he would walk away.  His interest in his employees was about as shallow as you can get.

He might be an extreme example, but a lot of people are like this.

People get wrapped up in their own lives so much that we forget to ask people about what’s going on in theirs.

Showing genuine interest in another person demonstrates that they matter to you.  If you go beyond the superficial aspects of their day and dig deeper, you’re making them feel important to you.

4. Go Above and Beyond

Too many people will do the bare minimum.  If they have an obligation to meet, they do just enough to get by.  In some circumstances, they do it inadequately.

Instead of being like most people, you can go above and beyond.  If you know the minimum amount of work you need to accomplish, do more.

Just recently, I got an email from someone asking for blogging advice.  I could easily have sent back 3-4 sentences and called it good.  But by the end of my email, I realized I had written 5 paragraphs of detailed information.

Needless to say, the person was extremely surprised and grateful for my notes.

5. Make someone feel good

There are endless opportunities throughout the day to make another person feel good.  Honestly even little comments can often brighten up someone’s day.

It can be as simple as telling someone that you like what they’re wearing.  Or maybe saying that you appreciate what they do.

If you see that they’re down, your words can bring them up.  It can let them know just how much they mean to you.

6. Be empathetic

Empathy is when you recognize the emotions experienced by another person.  It’s when you understand what another person is feeling and thinking.

The problem is that too few people have this ability.

A friend might listen to your problem and even understand how it can be a difficult situation, but they might not understand how it’s impacting you on the inside.

It’s worse when people don’t acknowledge what you’re going through.  They might try to relate your problems with their own.

There’s a difference between hearing and listening.  Hearing is when you let someone speak, but you only take in information superficially.  Listening is when you hear what they say, comprehend their viewpoint and understand their position.

Being a good listener is important for being empathetic.

When you can show that you are actually listening and empathizing with another person, you build a connection with them.  You can become someone they go to for help.  That can really make you stand out from all those other people who will only hear them.

7. Let them know they’re important

If there’s a common theme to most of these points, it’s this: make the other person feel important.

There are a lot more ways to do that than the ones listed here.  These are just the more common ways to do it.

Think of how your actions could make someone feel important.  You could remember their birthday and circulate a birthday card for them.  Or you could write something nice on their Facebook wall.

The possibilities are endless.  If you just keep the idea of making people feel important in mind, you’ll notice them.
photo credit: Pierre Andrews

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  1. Awesome advice, really brings me back to reading Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends and Influence People”. Most of human interaction just comes down to being interested in the other person and showing them that you are in fact interested.

    As far as making a good impression, I love the idea of bringing someone a gift. If you are visiting someone new or an old friend, why not grab something small like a bottle of wine or something else to show them that you care. It’s a great way to show your appreciation and open the doors of generosity.

    • I was thinking the same thing, Scott. That is one book I re-read every couple of years.

    • Gifts can be a great way to show appreciation. I have an informal tradition with some friends where we bring each other books when we see them. Sometimes they bring me one and sometimes I bring them one. It’s a fun way to say how much they mean to me and you can get some really great books that way.

      Speaking of books, I’m a big fan of Dale Carnegie’s book. I read that a long time ago and his advice still rings true today.

  2. This is a great list Steve.

    I feel like I do the majority of these on a decent level. But the one thing that I have definitely fallen short on is remembering people’s names.

    I swear every time someone tells me their name it goes in one ear and out the other lol. But it’s something I’m concious of and am trying to work on. I find that by using the other person’s name throughout the conversation, it definitely tends to stick.

    • Remembering names can be tough. I’ve gotten better at it since I’ve taught in classrooms to hundreds of students. It forces you to remember names.

      People appreciate it though. Think about it the other way when someone you’ve met many times doesn’t remember your name. Looking at it that way gives me the motivation to remember.

  3. All of the above sound really good, but the first one “Do What You Say You Will” I like the best. It seems like keeping the word got out of fashion. People say they’d do something, then they change their mind and the won’t even let you know. Whether it’s on a personal or business level, everyone should have integrity not just in order to make a great impression but also to do the right thing which always feels good.

    • I remember once when I was traveling and someone took a video of me feeding a monkey. He offered to email it to me and I gave him my email address and thanked him for doing it. After he left, I told my wife that I didn’t think he would follow through. And I was right, he didn’t.

      The bad part is that this person didn’t need to make that offer. They could have just said nothing.

      This kind of story happens to a lot of people I know.

  4. I’m currently working on #5, not because I want to improve my image, but because that’s the kind of person I want to be – a source of happiness.

    The combination of #1 & #4 is killer. I’ve noticed that in situations where I not only do what I said I’ll do, but do it well, I tend to make a good impression. For that reason, something I’ve recently started doing more of is making few promises.

    I use to say I’ll do x, y, and z, don’t worry. Now I say I’ll do x, and then hopefully if I’m up to it I’ll also do y and z. This way it becomes easier to do what I said I’ll do, and the extra effort I put in looks more like a bonus than something that should be expected.

    • That’s a good approach to doing what you say you will. Underestimate and over-deliver. I’d rather have that then people saying they’ll do something and not actually intend to do it.

  5. It is really sad but true, Steve. If you Do What You Say You will, people actually think you’re amazing these days. I run my own tutoring business, and I always have a waiting list. It is really not hard to run your own business. You have to know your stuff and do what you say you will do! If I say I will email a teacher, I email a teacher. If I say I will type you a summary of your child’s progress, you bet you’ll have it pronto. I’m in disbelief that all it takes to stand out is to keep your word, but I have referred parents to other tutors who never emailed them back! What? Word of mouth is very powerful, and if you don’t keep your word, people WILL find out. (End rant. Sorry!) I love your post and it’s very helpful!

    • I love the rant because it’s true. I’ve emailed places and never heard back from them too. And those are businesses. I remember once when I emailed a local company about taking some classes with them and I never heard a response back. I don’t get it. I was basically asking them how and where I could give them money and they just passed up on it.

      I know we all have busy lives, but when you run a business you’d think that you would make time for it.

  6. Steve! You had me at #1, bu the others are fine ideas too! I am always shocked when a person acts like I am spectacular for having done what I said I’d do. This seems like a common courtesy really, but society does not actually hold people to this rather low standard, so yes, if you do follow through, you appear to be a super star. Amazing. Have a mound of fun this weekend,Steve!

    • I get impressed when people do what they say they will too. I guess it’s just easier to say you’ll do something than to actually do it. It’s good to be that person who follows through – you’ll stand out from all the others.

  7. Unless you jest about punching someone in the face and actually do it.. might not be the best impression to give off!

    Thing about genuine interest though, if you’re not interested you’re not interested. I guess the first step here would be to surround yourself with people who you connect with and are interesting to you? But what bout work then? Hmmm. But I’m often guilty of not showing interest, even when I am interested, so good point.

    I’m incredibly empathetic when it comes to characters in books, movies, TV shows.. but somehow it doesn’t translate as well to actual friends. Sometimes I find myself trivializing problems they tell me about, even though I would have been troubled being in that same situation myself.

    All in all I agree with your points, and if you follow through I think you would definitely make a good impression. But it’s the sort of thing I feel slightly iffy about. I mean what if I’m actually a cynical prick deep down? I used to hate people that faked sincerity and kindness to a select few to be liked(usually with ulterior motives). And it would seem kind of hypocritical to portray this incredibly nice persona. But if this is more aimed at how to treat people you already care for, then I’m all for it!

    • You can fake sincerity and kindness up to a certain point. Eventually you might start to actually become sincere and kind just like sometimes smiling can turn a bad mood into a good one. I think being interested and nice to people is something that you can learn if you give it some effort.

      But it’s true that sometimes people are just uninteresting. It’s hard to fake it if you’re surrounded by someone who bores you. In those circumstances, I try to find at least a little something about them that draws me in even if it is unrelated to what they’re saying.

  8. We can either choose to leave people better off than we found them, or worse off. You are right – fortunately for us other people usually don’t step up, so it is easy to make an impression. One way when you make a new networking connection is to follow up by sending a book or two from Amazon that are related to what you talked about.

    • I’ve had people send me books before and it always makes a great impression on me. Sometimes I wonder if they’ll actually follow through and when they do I always make time to read what they send me.

  9. That’s a great list, Steve. I’ve always found that remembering (and using) people’s names is so important. It’s a very small effort that can really make someone feel that you care enough to know something about them. Our name is important – it’s the first piece in the puzzle of our identity.

  10. Gteat list, Steve.

    #1 is lacking these days and definitely makes an impression.

    Listening however has a power that is seriously under-estimated. Just by practicing true empathetic listening can develop connections with people on a deep level in a very short space of time.

    • You’re right that listening is important. I know that when I talk to people and they show that they’ve taken in everything I’ve said I feel more connected to them. Of course, there are those people who hear what you’re saying, but don’t understand you because they’re not trying to understand.

  11. ‘Do what you say you will’ really stood out for me. I’ve recently realised I, in fact, DO expect some people in my life to simply NOT do this. And it makes me so sad! Doesn’t mean I’m going to start being like that, though!

    It’s about the other person’s perspective, isn’t it? Understanding them enough to know what would make them feel important, and then doing this.

    A little consideration goes a long way….

    Thank you for the reminder, Steve.

    – Razwana

    • It’s amazing how much a little consideration can go. That’s why I’ve decided to do everything that I say. I don’t want to be someone people don’t expect to actually follow through.

  12. Enjoyed your thought-provoking post. Really got me thinking introspectively. Thanks for helping me ask myself if I do these things!

  13. #3 Show Genuine Interest is a really strong tip. It’s helpful to remember other people are human beings too, and not just a means to an end (probably what your boss was suffering from).

    This advice reminds me of David Foster Wallace’s point in his “This is Water” speech. It takes effort to move from the natural default setting of our self-centered view of the world.

    Thanks for the great post.

    • That probably is what was going on in his head. Now that I think back on it, I’m sure that’s what it was.

      But it’s true that we naturally link from our own point of view. It takes effort to move away from that and think of others.

  14. Hi Steve,

    sorry I haven’t visited your site for a while but it’s good to catch up & see you’re still writing great articles. In fact, this one in particular has a lot of common ground with something I’m passionate about and my latest book is all about – i.e. Networking. In my view, good networking is all about helping people (nothing new there I know) but I explain more of the why’s and hows rather than that simple fact in my book – I’ll send you a private email about that anyways & a copy if you’re interested.

    Keep up the good work my friend,

    take care & best wishes,

    • Glad to see you back, Alan. I agree with what you say about networking. The best kind of networking is done when you have something to help the other person. Or if you can help each other. Sometimes we get too wrapped up in our own selves that we overlook that point.

  15. Great thoughts! I’ve found adding value and encouraging others always creates a positive interaction or encounter. The key is to serve and help whenever we can to those around us.

    • It’s good to add value in each encounter. Bring a positive interaction with other people and they’ll want to be around you more. It’s a good way to be liked.

  16. Great advice! These tips are easy to follow and remember. Thank you!

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