The first impression you make endures forever. And if you make a poor first impression you may never have a chance to make another one.
Whether you are dating, applying for a job, or seeing a new potential customer, you can always improve in this area and make not just a good but a great first impression.
- Pay Attention. There is very little I like more than a person who concentrates exclusively on me. Similarly, there is very little I like less than meeting someone who looks over my shoulder at someone or something else. I once saw a singer at a small club peek at her watch during a performance to see how soon she could get off the stage. Clearly, the audience was not her first priority. I left when she took her break.
- Be Pleasant. If you appear to be in a bad mood I will assume you are either upset with me or have a sour disposition. In either case, why should I see or talk to you again? Remember, the cost of being nice is small. The cost of being nasty can be huge.
- Be Positive. It’s easy to find fault. The world is not perfect. But we all know that. I want to meet problem solvers, not problem creators. Problems are easy to find. Solutions are more difficult to come by. If you want to make a great first impression on me, bring me a solution, not a problem.
- Be Agreeable. The words, “you’re right,” or “I agree with you,” go a long way toward establishing a new and outstanding relationship. I’m not going to spend much time with someone who always argues with me, even if they’re right.
- Be Specific. I like to hear stories with specifics. We all do. If I told you that I read a story about a woman who had a problem with an animal, would you ever suspect I was talking about Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother?
- Admit your flaws. I have never been 100% perfect for even a single day in my life, and people who pretend that they are make me nervous. At best they are oblivious to their faults. At worst, they are unable or unwilling to make course corrections. And if they have to be perfect they will undoubtedly find fault with me in order to prove that they are better than I am. It’s hard to be around someone with an inflated ego. Our flaws are what make us human, and lovable. The statement, “I often have trouble picking out new clothes,” is a lot more appealing than, “People say I’m the best dressed person they ever met.”
- Say thank you for something specific. As you leave your first encounter, you might say, “Thank you for spending this time with me.” This will reinforce the great first impression, which you have already made, and a display of appreciation is an excellent way to leave a positive lasting impression.
Since there is no substitute for getting an impact right the first time, (you can’t go back and do it again), I suggest that you practice your “Great First Impression” technique with a friend. And your friend can practice making a “Great First Impression” on you. Each of you will not only learn a lot, but you will also have fun in the process.
It’s never too soon for you to begin creating great first impressions.