What Difference Does it Make Anyway?
by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
Experts tell us that when we meet someone new they assess us in the first seven seconds. Not a lot of time to make a great first impression. First impression blunders can be avoided with preparation. Although it only takes seven seconds to make a great first impression, that impression can be undone just as quickly if who you are after the meeting is not congruent with who you present yourself to be.
Savvy business people can usually detect when something doesn’t quite fit. You may impress a client, boss or potential employer with a dazzling presentation, but if you are not able to deliver after the initial meeting, the positive first impression will be lost. In fact it can have a very negative impact on future interactions. Integrity and authenticity are your biggest assets. The ten minutes following the initial meeting can deepen the connection significantly.
Be professional in all business situations. Your reputation is very important to creating long term trusted relationships. Here are six tips on creating and maintaining a positive first impression:
- Have a friend or colleague provide a personal introduction whenever possible. This will help build credibility even before the meeting. A personal introduction can greatly increase your chances of a successful connection, no matter the reason for the introduction in the first place.
- Take the time to learn about the person/people/organization you are going to meet with. With the easy access to information on people and organizations through the internet and social media, do your homework and find out as much as you can about them before the meeting.
- Be sure you have a clear objective for the meeting. Let the other person know the purpose of the meeting. This will help guide the conversation and keep the questions in line with your objective. No surprises.
- Be confident and knowledgeable without appearing a braggart. Professionals expect other professionals to be knowledgeable without being a know it all. Asking questions and sharing will build rapport more quickly than a long dissertation about what you know.
- Do your homework and dress appropriately for the occasion. This might seem obvious but often it is ignored. Your normal business casual attire may not fit in all environments. Check first.
- Be punctual, use good manners and smile. Being on time says a lot about who you are and how you live your live. It is absolutely imperative if you are to make a great first impression. Always say please and thank you, sounds obvious and again not always done. A smiling face is more appealing and easier for a new person to connect with. Show your pearly whites!