First Impressions are Crucial

Real Estate Agent with Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living

I recently re-read an ActiveRain post I wrote in 2015 where I listed 20 things I learned tending bar. In reflection, the list still rings true to me, but I wish I had taken the time to expand on each of the 20 lessons a bit more. I also realized that these lessons were accumulated through many service jobs I've taken on, including as a waitress at a New Jersey Diner (Golden Coach), at a New Jersey bagel shop (Bagel Town) and at an restaurant/ice cream shop in DC (Swensen's). Sadly, all three of these businesses are no longer around, but the lessons I took from them live on in me and I've passed them to my daughters

So today's post focuses on the first of twenty lessons.

Lesson 1:  Greet Everyone with a smile

When I was a Girl Scout Cookie Mom, and we set up a booth outside the local grocery store, I had to teach very little girls how to sell cookies. The very first thing I taught them was to smile when they saw a potential customer coming. 

Service jobs, like bartending, waitressing, and real estate require you to built rapport rather quickly.  Greeting them with a smile is a great way to make a good first impression. A smile is contagious and smiling puts you in a better mood so when they see you and smile back, it makes them feel better. 

As a bartender or waitress greeting a customer for the first time, you have the ability to read their body language and they can read yours. However, in real estate our first encounter is not always in person. We often meet people on the phone or through email or text. So, how can you greet them with a smile?

Smile even if they don't see you

After college I worked as a marketing and communications assistant for a non-profit in Washington DC. After we released a press release it was my job to call our database of reporters to see if they had any questions and were planning to cover our news. My boss would allow me to stay home to make the calls on two conditions. 1) I had to wear a suit and sit upright at my desk, and 2) I had to face a mirror and smile while making the calls.

She was convinced that a smiling voice was better on the phone and wearing a suit and sitting upright kept one on track and professional. Image by <a href="">99mimimi</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>

Go ahead, I know you want to...

Try it. slouch down or recline on the couch and say something and then sit up straight and smile and say the same thing again. Notice the difference? Sitting upright and smiling makes a huge difference. 

Image by <a href="">Uncle Ray</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>

They know if you are smiling

Even when they can't see your smile they will know if you are smiling. Think back to the pandemic when everyone was masking. You could look at their eyes and see that they were smiling. 

You don't get a second chance

Have you ever met someone while they were preoccupied with something else and it seems impossible to maintain their attention? They apologize and try to move on, but you don't feel like they are focused on you. 

Greeting someone with a smile let's them feel that your attention in on them and that you are happy to meet them.

You really only get one chance to make a first impression. 



Posted by


Dana Hollish Hill
REALTOR * Broker * Coach 
JPAR Stellar Living
800 S Frederick Ave, Suite 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20877
office 301.944.9070  
cell  202.271.5301

Comments (7)

Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

So true not only tending bar, but being in front of the public.  I know the culture has changed, yet I still don't understand all the tattoos many people have including agents.  This could be because I am old. As a professional facilitator for nearly two decades and a public education teacher for 5 years, dressing professionally, being groomed neatly always mattered.

In the book Breakthrough Networking the author discusses how quickly people make first impressions from social status to education.

Sep 08, 2023 10:11 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Leanne Smith 

I have tattoos - there are easily hide-able if/when desired. I got my first at 52 years of age and I love them. They all mean something to me. And it's totally feasible to dress professionally and be groomed neatly with tattoos!

Sep 10, 2023 06:42 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Fantastic post, Dana! First impressions are long lasting and can open doors or slam them shut quickly.

Sep 08, 2023 12:32 PM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Dana Hollish Hill you only get one shot at a first impression, and if not used wisely it can have a long lasting domino impact.

Sep 08, 2023 02:45 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

This is excellent, Dana!!! I hope you'll write a post for each of the 20 things you learned tending bar. When I managed a staffing office, we had mirrors on the consultant's desk for the very reason you mentioned. We wanted their smile to come through the phone. 

Sep 08, 2023 06:38 PM
Dana Hollish Hill

Kathy - I'm doing just that. Working on Lesson 3 now. 

Nov 03, 2023 09:40 PM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Thanks for the good post - now let's see what else you learned while tending bar...

Sep 09, 2023 07:00 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I totally agree about the importance of a smile. And I can't wait to read your other 19 lessons!

Sep 10, 2023 06:43 AM
Dana Hollish Hill

Remember that first month when people stopped wearing masks. Everyone was looking at each other and smiling just because they could see the smiles. I loved that month. 

Sep 11, 2023 10:44 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

I recently went on a listing that came from a past agent referral.  My past client came also, as they are friends.  She mentioned he had an agent before show up in jeans and so did not represent themselves as a professional.  First impressions are so important.

Nov 04, 2023 12:17 PM