Statistics Show How to Make a Lasting First Impression!
Guest blog by Paul Pykosh
A good first impression is the way to start a great relationship. A negative first impression can often be overcome, but why give yourself the extra work?
Statistics from psychological studies show what to do to make a first impression that will last.
1. Watch what you wear. First impressions are formed within 7 to 17 seconds of meeting someone and 55% of a person's opinion is driven by physical appearance. Dress conservatively when meeting for the first time, even if you're in a "creative" office environment. Don't use accessories, perfumes, hair styles and shoes that call attention to themselves.
2. Edit your body language. 93% of our judgment of others is based on non-verbal input. Watch your posture when standing and sitting. Use a firm hand shake. Maintain eye contact. Sitting too casually says you don't care. Crossing your arms says you're bored. Every so often, check how you're positioned--and make necessary adjustments.
3. Watch what you say. Words also make powerful first impressions--in fact, 7% of what we think of people is based on what they say. Before your first meeting, decide how you want to come across--confident, optimistic, innovative. Then list the words that convey these traits and keep them at the ready to use in conversation.
4. Use the other person's name. A study of personalized marketing showed that addressing prospects by name increased response 36%! Use the other person's name as soon as you learn it and repeat it throughout the conversation. Afterwards, write them a note mentioning everyone you met by name. Getting people's names right makes them want to connect with you.
5. Use an appealing tone of voice. 38% of a person's first impression is determined by your tone of voice. Getting the right tone of voice isn't easy--you may want to be confident but not brash, enthusiastic but still relaxed, focused but not obsessed. Listen to yours and others' tone of voice and practice speaking in a tone that reflects how you want to be regarded.
6. Be on time. The way to never be late is to always plan on being 15 minutes early. You'll need that 15 minutes if you get lost or stuck in traffic. And when you do get there early, you can use the extra time to collect your thoughts about what you're going to do to make that lasting first impression.
7. Bring printed materials. If it's appropriate, have on hand printed copies of resumes, proposals, statistics, case studies and business cards.
8. Put the focus on THEM. You'll come off as self-centered if you talk too much about yourself. Before you meet, write down all the things you want to know about the other person--their goals, needs, where they're at now. You don't have to go deep the first meeting; just show interest in making a connection.
9. Listen well. Time and again, studies show listening is one of the top skills needed for business success. On average, people only retain 50% of what they hear. Focus on doing better than that. Listening well makes it easy to keep the conversation going. Comment on what the other person says. Ask follow up questions.
10. Research them. Find out as much as you can about the person you want to impress before you meet them. If you can ask intelligent questions, it shows you have some understanding about their situation and makes a very positive first impression. Check out social media to find mutual interests or friends that will spark instant chemistry.
11. Watch the jokes. People's response to humor varies, so skip anything controversial or sarcastic. Save the jokes for later when you know the person's sensitivities.
12. Relax! Be at ease and be yourself. Let the other person know the real you, a person far more appealing than someone who's stressed out trying to make a great first impression. Before your meeting, do something you like--listen to music, go to the gym. Give yourself a pep talk or call a friend for support. And if something trips you up in the meeting, don't panic. Just pause, take a breath and continue. Never assume you're blowing it--you really don't know what the other person is thinking!
With just a little practice, you can leave people with a wonderful first impression every time.... Have a great month!
Thanks to our friend Paul Pykosh for this guest blog.
I visited Brookside Gardens on Friday, March 4, 2011 to attend the Affordable Housing Conference of Montgomery County Roundtable. After the meetings, I visited the Conservatory to see the Spring Exhibit. Canon PowerShot G11 camera. Photograph by Roy Kelley.