How to Make Positive First Impressions & Win People Over.
“People sometimes talk about the power of first impressions, and believe me, there is truth to it”- Ann Brashares
“A good first impression can win people over”- J.K Rowling.
Have you ever laid eyes on someone and immediately made judgments about them? Perhaps you thought they looked friendly. Or maybe, one glance at them annoyed you already. Well, we regularly make these types of assumptions, but we may not spend time asking ourselves why.
Our brains make snap judgements about people within 30 seconds of meeting them. It starts before they even open their mouths. Psychological studies from Oregon State University show the first 30 seconds of an interview often determines whether the person gets hired or not.
You can make first impressions in a way that gives you leverage in both your professional lives and for a greater purpose. Making first impressions is not something we are born with, and it is certainly a skill that can be learned. You can present yourself in a way in which people will find you, choose you and relate to your story.
If you’ve ever seen The Wolf of Wall Street you might be wondering what Jordan Belford looking for when he asked people in the audience to sell him a pen? It’s evident that Jordan wasn’t exactly looking for someone to rattle off features and benefits of the pen. He was looking for someone to ask him about his story. He wanted someone to ask him who are you? What are your needs? What will you use the pen for?
The same principle of selling a pen applies to selling yourself, whether it is in an interview, date or otherwise. I’m not going to bore you about the fact that you should research the company before you attend the interview. Or that you should dress appropriately and arrive early to the interview and if you fail to do these things that you have ruled yourself out of the interview process before you’ve even had a chance to say ‘hello.’
It’s important to note that first impressions matter. How you speak, how you enter the room and how comfortable you look are all really important. People who perform best in interviews start off speaking clearly but slowly, walk with confidence and they carefully select how many bags and items they carry with them to avoid looking awkward.
Before walking in to an interview environment or otherwise, ask yourself: “Am I going to deliver a world-class performance?” Ann Miria-Ko, Founder of Floodgate VC firm has been called “The most powerful woman in start-ups” by Forbes and is a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Stanford. Whether it was photo-copying documents of picking up donuts, Ann’s father would ask her “Are you going to deliver a world-class performance?” This question was instilled in Ann from a very young age and would be a constant reminder throughout her childhood, studies and professional career.
In the photocopying situation, Ann decided a world class performance meant really crisp copies where you couldn’t tell that it was a photocopy. She spent time focusing on the details, ensuring everything was straight and colour-matched. And when she was picking up donuts, she would make sure she would get the fresh donuts instead of the ones that had been standing out in the basket for a while. So in every step of the way, it was “What can I do to make this experience delightful, or to make this world-class?
So, how are you going to deliver a world class performance when making first impressions? What is your purpose, and what is your story?
Much like the pen scenario, once you reach a certain point in your career, people aren’t as interested in you reciting facts about your experience and skills, often they can see what they need from one glance at your resume. People become more interested about who you are. People begin to ask you why are you here? What is your purpose?
A couple of years ago, someone asked me “What is your purpose in life? The sad reality is- I didn’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it. The mere fact that I hadn’t put any thought into why I was put on this earth, was in hindsight shocking, and immediately forced me to start thinking about and designing my purpose.
It was through this thought process that I came up with the idea of starting my own blog and launching Boss in Heels. I wanted to make an impact and a difference to people’s lives. I wanted to help people realise their full potential and become the best version they could possibly be.
Understanding my purpose and calling has enabled me to question every decision I make and ensure that it is in line with my longer-term goals. It has also made it easier for me to say ‘no’ to people and things that are not in line with who I am or where I want to go.
Everything in our life from the everyday through to the extraordinary is a story waiting to be told. Our lives are a series of memories and milestones. However, our life is so much more than just the big moments. There are influences and interactions along the way that add to the story of who we are and what we value.
I found that once I reached a certain point in my career, people started to become more interested in my story and who I was as a person, rather than simply reciting facts about my experience.
I asked myself “what is my story?” If someone was to ask me to summarise my life in 2-3 sentences, what would I say? I started to consider my past experiences and current circumstances, and what makes me uniquely me.
Developing a story has encouraged me to have important conversations about life and determine what matters most.
Train yourself to delve into the details of who you are, what you do, and what first impression you want to make. Make a statement, and give people a reason to ask for more. Tell people who you are, before they tell you.
I’d like to leave you with one final thought. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make it count!