Monday, 19 May 2014

One Chance to Make a First Impression

Dressed for Success

"You only have one chance to make a first impression". This statement may seem a little overused, but that's only because it continues to ring true. You should always be conscious of how you are viewed by others - twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

I don't suggest you create a false persona to become more acceptable to others. I do believe you should always try to be the best "you", you can be. What in particular am I talking about? Well there are a few things to keep in mind when you know you're meeting someone for the first time.

First, be respectful of the other persons time. This is particularly important if you are setting up a business meeting, or a job interview. Don't assume because it's convenient for you to meet someone that it's also convenient for them. Make sure you consult with them ahead of time. Find a mutually acceptable time. Showing up unexpectedly is almost always a bad idea. Letting someone know how much you value their time is a very good idea.

Think about it. If some stranger shows up at your front door unexpected while you're in the middle of cooking a big dinner, you've got three kids creating chaos in the house, and the puppy just had an accident on the carpet, are you going to be inclined to invite them in to hear there sales pitch? Not likely.

You never know what kind of stress or timelines someone is under. No matter how anxious you are to set up a meeting you have to accept that the other person may have more pressing matters to deal with at that time. If you work with them to find a better time for both of you, you've already demonstrated your ability to problem solve. What a great first impression!

Once you've found a time that works for both parties what next? make sure you do your homework. Again this applies in business meetings, interviews, and many personal activities. If a company has a website check it out. If you can't find one search for articles that have been written about the company. 

Researching a business will help you in a couple of ways. First, you'll get an impression of it's culture. Is it really the right fit for you? Do you want to work there, or do business with them, as the case may be? If your research suggests you don't you've just saved yourself a lot of wasted time.

If it does seem to be a good fit. They'll be a lot more impressed if you took the time to learn about them instead of showing up with little knowledge of what they're about. You don't have to spend hours researching them, but you'd be surprised what you can learn in half an hour.

Continue to emphasize your desire to learn all you can about the company you're interviewing with, or business you're meeting with. Come prepared to write things down. This really does apply in a job interview as well. 

An interviewer won't be offended if you take notes. There's no rule that only the interviewer can take notes. Taking your own notes demonstrates a willingness to learn. They will be impressed by your initiative.

One more thing to consider is your appearance. What do you think your chances of winning a business contract are if you show up with ketchup on your shirt, and you're wearing jeans ripped at the knees? Not very good.

Take the time to dress appropriately for the interview. You might dress very differently if you are interviewing for a part in a dance production than you would interviewing to become a middle level manager of a large company. Again, this is where your research comes in. If you understand the corporate culture you'll know how to be properly attired. 

Do you remember a time when you ruined a chance to make a good first impression? Did you learn from that bad experience? Please share your story. I think we can all learn a little from others experiences in this area.