I've learned a few things in my 24 short years on this planet, and one of them is that first impressions really matter. I remember going in for my college interview knowing how important it was. I didn't realize that for the rest of my life, whether it is meetings with producers, meetings with brand sponsors, or just meeting new friends, that the first impression means everything.
1. Confidence is Key. The first impression is all about confidence. Remind yourself of what you have. Everyone has something that makes them special. Everyone has something that makes them worth a damn. Remember yours. Even if you don't believe it, tell yourself that you are likable. Get excited. Bring positive energy. Be the person that you would want to meet.
2. Engage with People. Don't over think it. Just go in a make a move, even if you have to inject yourself into a conversation and then apologize for interrupting and introduce yourself. I guarantee that if you bring along an interesting view point or something funny to the conversation, they will welcome you with open arms. Be yourself and allow people to hear your views and see who you are.
3. Power Handshake. I learned this in my high school Economics class. Mr. Kleinbaum went around the room and shook all of our hands to test out if we'd impress anyone during an interview. It turns out I would, although to his disappointment, I never become a stock broker. The shake itself should be firm, but don't crush a person's hand. Then you are just a power playing asshole. Be sure to make eye contact with the person and smile. If you know their name be sure to say it with a "nice to meet you." Make it personal. Make it count.
4. Start a Conversation. It can be as simple as a compliment to asking what they are drinking to asking why they came that night. But get the conversation and try to keep control of it and the flow of it. If it's a business event, keep it light, witty, and intelligent. If it's personal and making you think the person is cute, keep it flirtatious, witty, and intelligent. Either way, try to control the flow and the topics as much as possible.
5. Don't Monopolize Anyone's Time. You aren't the only other person at this event or party, and chances are they want to meet other people are just talk to their friends. After you have a good, productive, and sweetly timed conversation, excuse yourself to say hi to someone or say to them, "I will see you in a bit. Enjoy the drink. I'm sure you have people to mingle with." I hate when someone takes up half of a party talking to me about the Giants game, when I'm just trying to go talk to that girl who I know is an art curator with a fascinating knowledge on Matisse. DO NOT BE THAT PERSON.
6. Take a Lap Around the Room Before You Leave. After you have made your way around the room once, come back around. Chances are that there are not only new people there but your "new friends" would love to hear about how much you "enjoyed hearing about their summer on Martha's Vineyard". Even more so, everyone remembers the person who remembers and introduces people. If you are talking to your new acquaintance and see someone new, introduce yourself and others. "Hi, I don't believe we met but I'm Rachael. Charles, here, and I were just talking about how great this place is. How do you know the host?" Now you have everyone talking!
7. Get Them Digits. On your second trip around, ask for people's numbers or exchange business cards. Try to allows get their number, that way you are in control of making initial contact. Then drop them an email or text saying, "Hey so-n-so, it was great to meet you at blah-blah-blah. I loved chatting about do-da-do-da-da. Let's maybe get together sometime to talk more or I would love to meet about the possiblity of working together. Plain and simple.
People will remember you and also feel comfortable when you reach out to them because they will feel that you made a connection.