Mirror Body Language
Body language is a subconscious but very powerful indicator of someone’s relation to others. When meeting someone for the first time, take care to assume a body language which is receptive but equivalent to their’s. That is to say, if someone is sitting down, don’t stand close to them and look down upon them as this is a condescending and domineering posture. In this case, sit down close to the person. If someone you are speaking with has very rigid and upright posture, mirror this with your own to communicate a common ground with them. If they are relaxed or tired, attempt to strike a balance with their mood so that your energy does not appear to run contrary to theirs.
Respect Personal Space
Nobody likes to be crowded or spoken to at too close a distance. At best this is uncomfortable or smelly and at worst it is terribly aggressive. Make sure to retain a respectful distance from the person you are meeting, yet do not stay so far off to them as to suggest you are unwilling to speak to them, uninterested or put-off.
Balance Time Speaking and Listening
Do not dominate the conversation by speaking for long periods of time without interruption or the other person will quickly begin to resent you. Strike a good balance between speaking and listening by offering a piece of personal information and then allowing the other person to respond. If they tell you something about who they are or what they are doing, follow up with questions that rephrase part of their statement to show you are listening and interested.
Seek Common Ground
When the other person expresses interest or pleasure in something, tell them about your own experience with that activity if you enjoy it. If you do not enjoy their activity or have no experience with it, you can say, “That sounds really interesting” and follow up by asking them more specific questions about their interest such as how they got started with it, what they enjoy most about it, etc. Refrain from potentially thorny issues such as religion or politics unless appropriate or until you know enough about the other person to discuss sensitive topics without treading on their tenderly held beliefs.
Eye Contact is Paramount
If you fail to make steady eye contact with the other person, they are likely to think you either find them ugly, they have something nasty pasted on their face or in their teeth, or you have something to hide from them. None of these are good introductory sentiments. Man up and look the other person straight in the eye when you first meet them, and smile. This sets a good foundation for the rest of the conversation. Invite them to continue making eye contact with you by smiling and nodding as they speak. The more eye contact you make with someone, the deeper the feeling of connection they will come away with.