September bells call students back to make their first impressions of the new academic year. The buzz of business and social mingling brings the rest of us back to working on that all important, and often permanent first impression in our work spaces.
Check out Communication Culture’s A to G cheat sheet to clean up some of the sloppy social habits that may sabotage your networking efforts this fall.
You know you make first impressions all the time – on the phone, in a letter or in email. In today’s conversation, let’s review some of those less impressive in person habits in the bud so you can put your best face forward and impress.
Get it right the first time and you might have an ally for life. At the very least you’ll advance your professional business image or your social appeal.
Why are we starting with the “Don’ts”?
Because we respond deeply and form an impression super fast with these behaviours, which I feel cut across cultures and are not dependent on words. They are the nuances that can block your efforts or boost your success in connecting with people and making what is likely a long lasting first impression.
See how you feel about this little list:
A is for attire. We may appear less professional if we are not dressed appropriately for our ‘connecting context’. It may be as simple as wearing a jacket to add to your professional image, and of course balancing your ‘bling’ and other accessories for both men and women.
B is for business card. Is yours rag tag or up-to-date? What impression will you make when someone asks for your card and you hand one over, apologizing that is no longer entirely correct? I plead guilty on this one as I used up my old business cards and told people that the missing website is actually my full name, dot com.
C is for confusion. Changing subjects suddenly while explaining your work or some other focus derails people’s engagement with you, and therefore your credibility. See your conversations through to a logical close.
D is for drone. Details that enthrall you might be dull and long winded to others. Practice explaining what you do in an interesting and brief way. DO ask others about their job or profession, especially if they’ve just given you the opportunity to talk about yourself. It’s polite to show interest in others and it proves you to be a conscientious professional.
F is for failure to launch. Do you forget to introduce yourself by name? Do you hesitate to join conversations in progress and simply lurk like a limp wallflower? Then stop it! Smile, ask to join in and tell people your name. Give them a chance to make first impressions on you too!
G is for Google it for goodness sake. Read up or listen to radio and improve your conversation range. Be current on topics of interest that day, or to the people you are connecting with at the business or networking events you attend. Take your pick: stock market, community events, social media buzz or many more topics.
Take it from me, a communicator with 30 years professional writing experience – being in the know impresses people and can be your top currency in today’s marketplace.
VIP: Your very important point is that you have one chance to make a first impression. It’s very difficult to add to or change that first ‘feeling and information’ people experience of you. Impress with your professionalism and demonstrate your value right at the first impression.
Next time: More on impressing without words!