How to Make the Perfect First Impression

05/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

You have the blink of an eye to make the perfect first impression. According to Princeton researchers, strangers give your face one-tenth of a second to impress. With no time to waste, here's how to bowl someone over when...

You might meet her or him.

  • Look your best. Research by UCLA's Albert Mehrabian indicates that appearance and body language account for 55% of your first impression. A person will assume your style tells him or her everything about you, like your level of intelligence, competence, ease, friendliness, self-esteem, success, and power. Whether the person realizes it or not, whether s/he finds it important or not, s/he's affected by your appearance, according to the National Research Council of Canada.
  • Check your posture. University of Groningen research confirmed that dominance behaviors, like a more upright posture, increase males' desirability as a date, with men who exhibit more of such making more frequent successful contact with women.

You're being noticed for the first time.

  • Smile when you walk into a room. This elicits a positive reception from your target before you've even picked this individual. Humans pick up smiling from 30 meters away.
  • Maintain a happy face given recent University of Barcelona research found that the brain processes such faster than negative, angry, or stand-offish expressions.

You're talking to this person of interest.

  • Practice body talk. Those expressive in their body orientation and posture are liked more than stiffs. S/he'll like getting a sneak-peak into your emotions, and be more willing to share his her space. To show you're engaged, hold this person's gaze. Stroke his or her ego with occasional raised eyebrow or head nods to reflect an interest in what's being said.
  • Highlight commonalities. People typically choose mates who are like them on personal and social characteristics, feeling rewarded by those who validate their worldview, beliefs, and interests. So play "20 questions," asking about this individual's background, education and work experiences, and social activities, honing in on similarities you share. Flattered, s/he'll feel validated, more able to predict your behaviors, and assume you like what you see, with a sense of familiarity increasing your love object's comfort and your degree of likeability.
Things are going well.
  • Don't sweat that, according to research in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, how your relationship will progress will be determined in 3 minutes. If s/he likes you, the future holds more interactions, discussions, and a closer relationship. You can reinforce your likeability online. Tufts University researchers report that people like those who are socially expressive in face-to-face interactions and personal webpages.