Today, it seems things move so quickly that we tend to judge people after the initial seconds of meeting them. First impressions can be sticky and hard to reverse when they are of the negative variety. If we don’t like what we see or hear we simply move on, and the same rule applies when the shoe is on the other foot. If our aim is to have great (not good) first impressions then it becomes increasingly important to understand how you need to speak, think, and act in order to deliver the type of message you want to convey.
That old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover” is right in theory, but wrong in reality. We are so quick to judge, that we often jump to conclusions within seconds of meeting a person, which becomes the deciding factor as to whether we will invest more time in learning about that person, or whether we walk away. Ridiculous, yes, but these are our instincts at work.
Jumping To The Wrong Conclusion
The problem is that a lot people can jump to the wrong conclusion, and once they embrace that conclusion, you will probably never hear or see them again. Creating a strong, lasting, and positive first impression becomes increasingly hard in the digital space. Our attention online is already splintered in several directions. If we don’t plan and think about our actions before making them, being forgotten is literally a click away!
How many times have you seen, listened, or even met someone that had major league credentials, but that couldn’t hold your attention? It happens all the time. It really is unfortunate because many people and entrepreneurs suffer from the duality of having great ideas and businesses but lack the ability to make a lasting impression, especially with people who can help their ideas and businesses grow and flourish.
So what tools do we need to create a powerful, positive and impactful first impression?
I can’t tell you how many times someone has said “Yeah I remember you because…” and most of the time it was something I didn’t even plan. It is difficult to know what and how someone will remember you. It can be something you wore, something you said (or did not say) or something you did (or did not do). If you think of all the variables it can be overwhelming! I have found, however, that it is often both your words and (believe it or not) the ability to shut up and listen and let others engage that sparks the attention. To keep that attention, you need to stay engaged and in order to do that you need to be conscious of your surroundings and considerate for the people in it. Crazy as it may seem, it is not all about you!
Most of the time, having the skillset to be a good conversationalist will suffice. In order to be a good conversationalist, however, you need to remember that, unless you are talking to yourself, the word conversation refers to more than one person. It is much like marriage, as you have to take the good with the bad and you are never going to want to hear 100% of the things that your spouse has to say (I hope my wife does not read this post!) In marriage, like in business, we need to put up with a little bad to get the greater good. The benefit in marriage is, protecting and keeping the sanctity of marriage (amongst other things). In business, we need this to get the investment, get the client, negotiate the contract, or close the sale.
There have been many times when I have been in a conversation on a topic being discussed that I have no real interest in, but I ask questions and stay in a responsive mode. This shows that you have respect for someone else’s perspectives, experiences and profession. Though, it may not be interesting to you, it is interesting to them, and if you respect them you need to respect the fact that you will not share all of the same interests! The reward is that they remember that they had a great conversation with you, and they did most of the talking. STAY ENGAGED!
That word compelling can be misleading as it sometimes can be taken as some inherent super-personality trait that someone was born with, but that’s not what we’re going for here as I am focusing on what is within our control. Being compelling, to me, begins with the word, “authenticity.” I find it very important to stand up for what you believe in and stand for. Even if your opinion is contrary to what the other person is talking about, speaking from an authentic stance will still gain the respect from the other person. Going with whatever the other person says simply to be non-confrontational can be quite boring and is often taken as spineless. Do not however, mistake standing up for what you believe for being argumentative, as they are quite the opposite. Things will backfire on you quite quickly if you become argumentative. While it may most certainly make you memorable, it is not the type of memorable you are looking for.
Elevating your energy level will also make you stand out, develop killer charisma , and be more memorable. Good energy is attractive and people like being around it. I’m not talking about Red Bull energy! There are many other ways to find energy that do not have its contents in a bottle so STAY TRUE!
Finding Common Ground
Of the three, this one takes some mental navigation on your part. I attended a party a few years back where I didn’t know anyone – which is always tough at the beginning until you start talking to people. I had gotten into a great conversation with a man about traveling and had brought up one of my favorite places to travel for business – Hong Kong. As it turned out, he lived in Hong Kong for three years and we proceeded to enter into a great conversation about several restaurants and bars that we had both went to… and we’ve been friends ever since.
You have to be willing to discover some of the personal likes, and even dislikes, that will allow you to connect on an emotional levels. Keep asking questions – but do it tactfully and naturally. Nobody likes the feeling of being interrogated or interviewed when first meeting someone. STAY CURIOUS!
Remember, it only takes one person to change your business, so everybody counts! Always be in the mode of making a lasting impression that floors them!
Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Humble!