“You only get one chance to make a first impression”. Its an old saying but also very true. We make first impressions all the time. The way you walk into a spin class creates a first impression; your degree of politeness in ordering a latte creates another; the person who speaks first in a business meeting offers insight into how you view yourself.
The impression you might want to leave with others varies among situations but you still want to know how to do it right. We’ll prep for an interview or business meeting and leave you to extrapolate to other venues.
The most important factor in who is hired is the KLT Factor. Know, Like, Trust. Your first impression should create a positive KLT. Of the three, learning to trust you is the most crucial. Trust is built by showing respect for the other person through these 5 actions.
1. Be Prepared. You don’t have to be a Boy or Girl Scout to follow this motto. Know as much as you can about each person you will interact with. Hobbies? Community service? Previous employers? College affiliations?
People like it when you know something about them that they didn’t have to tell you. Use this info to connect.
2. The person who has the most power in the situation should be the first to speak. If you are the interviewer, its you; if you are the interviewee, its one of the interview panel. When you call a meeting at work, you speak first; when you are an attendee, wait for the meeting to start before drawing attention to yourself. If you are trying to sign a potential client, let the client speak first. You may be the expert but ask “How can I help”to get the conversation started. No matter how good you are, you can’t show how you can solve the problem until they tell you about it.
3. Allow some time for small talk- unimportant conversation that takes place before the main agenda is addressed. You might say, Jeff, I see you are on the Board of Caring Communities. How did you get involved? This shows your interest (you cared enough to look it up), helps make a connection between his service and your own community involvement.
When you are the person with the lesser degree of power or control, being the one to launch the interview may appear aggressive.
4. Watch your body language. Be as relaxed as possible. Face the others, make eye contact, lean a bit forward toward the speaker. No crossed arms, swinging legs, twirling pencils or fiddling with hair.
5. Be a good listener. This is important when you are meeting a potential client or a potential employer. Nod slightly to encourage the person speaking to continue. Ask relevant questions. Provide clear answers with examples when asked.
Remember that your goal is to create KLT: show who you are (be vulnerable and open); be likeable (listen, be empathic, friendly); explain how you are trusted by others to solve problems.
It is much easier to provide a great first impression than it is to repair damage caused by a negative one!
Be awesome in interviews, nail networking, attract clients: I can help you present your most impressive self when it matters. firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-212-6679.