First Impression Counts – Hit Or Miss

 

There is no second chance to make a first impression.

But do you know how long it takes to leave a first impression?

It is said to be within the first 2 seconds! But let’s not get stuck on numbers. May it be 2 seconds, or 5 or 10: Matter of the fact is that the time period is REALLY short! So how can you influence other people’s judgement about you to not mess it up right away?

 

Depending on the situation, you can be introduced by someone else, or you introduce yourself. Every time you approach someone however, you have to take initiative and introduce yourself. There’s no way around it. You have one shot – hit or miss.

Think about people you had a good impression of right from the start, and people who didn’t leave a good impression. What did they do differently?

The biggest influencer of how others perceive you, is confidence. If you appear unconfident you’ve already lost. However, don’t mistake confidence with loud, flashy, or even arrogant behavior. You know how some people try to override their lack of confidence or knowledge by cracking weird jokes. You know who you are and what you are doing, so you have no need to be nervous.

Next up is appearance. Not meaning your clothes and make up, but the way you approach someone. Upright, friendly, with a warm smile, and a firm handshake (but don’t squeeze too hard or too long à la Donald Trump, because that is just awkward and makes people wonder what kind of weirdo you are; it’s a handshake, not a fight).

Your appearance also includes your body language and the energy you spread out. You can appear friendly, welcoming, and respectable from a distance away, because your posture, body language, and attitude transports it even over distances. Even on the phone: you appear a lot more sympathetic if your attitude is right (positive, friendly, etc.). The rest will follow.

And yes, your external appearance counts too. Appropriate, neat, and clean clothes, hair, nail, etc. does influence the judgement. You want to be clean and well taken care off. Watch out to avoid stains on your crisp white shirt when drinking a coffee or eating spaghetti. Clean your shoes sometimes and take care of your hands. General rules of hygiene apply. Regarding clothing you should adjust to your direct colleagues and manager, and maybe dress it up a notch.

 

But the moment of truth comes when you actually say something. You can do perfect until here but when you open your mouth, that’s the moment people will remember and which sets the tone. Everything else is just supporting your message. Talking about tone: Tall loud and confident but don’t shout at the other person. Keep eye contact with who is talking or who you are talking to. And most important: know what to say. You never met that person before and most likely they have no idea who you are. You are expected to briefly introduce yourself. Who are you? What are you doing? How do you add value? And what can you help with?

Observe other people and listen to their standard text. You will notice that they all sound the same. “I’m Josh from the accounting team.” “I’m Maria and I’m the manager of Marketing.” “My name is Bob and I’m a graphic designer.” And so on. It helps to mentally sort you into a category, but it doesn’t help you to be remembered or create interest. How you achieve that is answered in our guide for how to make a kick-ass introduction. You need to be able to introduce yourself briefly and on point, adding the spice to awake interest to learn more about you within your counterpart.

Once you introduced yourself like a champ and answered some more questions about yourself, it is your turn to learn some professional and personal facts about your counterpart. It will help you to remember them better and create a personal first relationship. Ask questions. Make compliments (people are prone to open up after receiving genuine compliments). Observe everything you see and use what you know about the person. What interesting personal detail can you spot on their desk? A picture of the family or vacation? Boat or other project? What screen-saver do they use? If it is worth placing a picture of it on the desk or on their screen, it obviously is of great interest and importance and a good conversation-starter.

Compliment their outfit or performance on a task if you have heard of it. And most important: listen and show interest! People like to talk to people who are good listeners. This can translate into plenty of information and contacts, which will help you later on. My managers used to wonder how I can know so much about the developments within the company and specific problems even though I wasn’t involved in it. That’s the power of a good network.

 

To sum it up:

Be welcoming and friendly to whoever you meet. Give them a nice smile and a firm handshake. Watch your posture and body language. Remember that the other person is human just like you. Speak confidently and describe on point what your value is, in a way that creates interest and follow-up questions.

Use this guide to create your own unique kick-ass introduction to help you making a great first impression with whoever you meet.

Observe what you see and listen closely to what is said. Show interest in your counterpart and don’t be shy with compliments.

Building your network starts with introducing yourself.