They say the first 30 seconds you meet someone are very crucial as that someone would have a long-lasting impression that would affect the way they listen, hear, see and accept you afterward. Are you the Gentleman, the Classy Lady, the Professional, the Amateur, the Charming, and the list goes on and on…
It doesn’t really matter if you’re meeting someone socially or in a business environment like a Job interview or a business venture meeting; the first impression rule applies. And believe it or not, small and even tiny details about how you look, talk, or act can play a significant part in what the impression is measured.
Nevertheless, in today’s modern life and work, we meet people for the first time in what is considered different setups where some can be online; I remember that when I used to go for a meeting in a foreign country, I would arrive on the evening before, and reasonably spend time understanding the customs and cultures of the country may be over dinner, coffee or so, and then I would go adequately prepared to the meeting, all freshen up with adequate materials to strike a great first impression; however in the online world, making a solid first impression can become trickier very quickly, as I noticed in many times you can’t predict HOW the other person (s) will be connecting, or the quality of their video/audio (or if they will be putting their camera on or not) or even yours; and of course needless to say, that the first tradition of exchanging business cards, monitoring the seating arrangements, body language and more, so you would have a sense of the room’s map for influence or power, is generally limited to a brief introduction on the first minute or so leaving you with a big room for guessing…
So how can you do it? How will you be able to make a great and long-lasting first impression?
There’s no simple way to describe this, but I would recall a story I heard about a visitor in Disney land, where he went into one of the shows, and there was literally no one from the audience attending in the theater, and when the show started, the music started, and the team of actors jumped on stage and started singing and dancing with their usual exceptional enthusiasm until the time of the session was over. So the visitor got very curious and went up to the manager of the team and asked her the question: “How come the actors did the entire show with no one watching, and they did that without even blinking?”
Her reply was straightforward and powerful, “What if a child went in?”
You see, the rules of first impression carry many technicalities, from what you wear to how you sit and how you speak and what to say (or what you DON’T Say) and how to listen and so and so, but an important lesson that I have learned over the years is that you need to prepare EVERY TIME, and for EVERY MEETING, and for EVERY POSSIBLE Encounter, cause you never know whom you will meet, and how you will be presented.
“If you want to make a good first impression, smile at people. What does it cost to smile? Nothing. What does it cost not to smile? Everything, if not smiling prevents you from enchanting people.” ~ Guy Kawasaki
So this week’s tip, is about Consistently planning to make a great first impression, all by always thinking that the next meeting or event or even online call might have the best impact on your life. Hence, you will be taking care of every detail, from the way you look to the environment you are connecting from (Virtual background?), and preparing well regardless of how “important” the meeting is.
And I would leave you with an example: I have always admired one of my former managers, Mark Chaaban (Now General Manager of Customer Success at Microsoft for the Middle East & Africa Region), who was always (and I mean it ALWAYS) prepared for any and every meeting he would attend, whether it’s with a CEO of a Fortune 500 company in an executive session, or with University students on an informal online chat; He always has his materials well prepared, and his talking points (even the brief ones) rehearsed in advanced, regardless if he did the same speech or talk many times before, he constantly perfects his first impression, even with the same people.
Have a wonderful week,