Making Positive & Lasting First Impressions.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” – Will Rogers.
Have you ever laid eyes on someone and immediately made judgments about the kind of person they are? 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.
There are a few key practices I have developed over the years to put my best foot forward, whether it is in a professional setting or otherwise:
“You can be anything you want if you dress for it”- Edith Head.
Whether we like it or not, people make judgements about us based on our physical appearance. How we dress and how we present ourselves tells a story about who we are. If you walk into a professional setting with wrinkled clothing, messy hair and looking like you’ve just rolled out of bed – what message does that project to the world? A little effort into personal grooming and presentation can go a long way.
Most people want to be heard however do not have the patience to really listen when others are speaking. Or, they listen simply to respond, rather than being present in what the other person is really saying. One thing I have learned is that listening is just as, if not more important than talking. Especially when you want a positive outcome. If you allow the other person to speak first and give them more ‘air-time,’ the better conversationalist you will become. I have often heard the saying “The smartest person in the room is also the quietest person in the room.” This saying could not be more true. Listen, observe and when you do contribute, make it something worthwhile and meaningful.
Being confident sends a message to those around you that you are secure in who you are and what you do. Confidence is often attributed to success. I used to be a very shy person. I have learned that confidence is something which can certainly be developed over time. The more you get used to presenting in front of a crowd, speaking with executives or networking at social events, the more natural it will be become.
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. It was 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?
Etiquette refers to dignity and having a sense of what is appropriate within certain situations. Learning when to be serious and when it is ok to have a laugh are equally as important. Furthermore, basic etiquette such as eye contact, shaking hands firmly, sitting in a dignified manner and knowing when and how to behave appropriately should be a given, particularly when trying to make a positive impression. Sometimes, something as simple as a thank you note will make a positive and lasting impression.
What are some of the practices you have put in place to make positive and lasting impressions? I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave your comments below!
I loved all your points. First impressions are very important. I had to make several yesterday and I feel like I did everything to make it a wonderful first impression. Being confident plays a huge part in first impressions and continuing to impress people.
Thank you so much for your lovely feedback and for taking the time to read, Jen! So great to hear you’ve been making some wonderful first impressions – keep up the great work!