10 First Impressions That Matter

Posted by Todd Smith

We have all heard of the value of making a positive impression when meeting someone for the first time.  It only takes a few seconds for someone to evaluate you. This opinion is usually based on your demeanor, mannerisms, body language, speech, and appearance, but it’s even more than that.

When you meet new people and enter into new relationships, what do you notice?  Do you notice the clothes they wear in different settings? Do you notice the first email they send you?  Do you notice the amount of time it takes them to respond to your first email or phone call? Do you notice how they interact in the first meeting you’re in together? The fact is, you intuitively notice many things that, when combined together, form your opinion of them.

I learned early in my career that there is no other impression you can make on someone more important than the first impression. The School of Hard Knocks taught me that if you don’t make a positive first impression, you seldom get a chance to make a second impression, especially in sales.

As a Realtor, there were countless little first impressions I focused on making that, when combined together, made me stand out from my competitors.

When I broke down all the actions I could take to make a positive first impression, my list was long.  Here are a few I always focused on:

  • I arrived at my prospective client’s home five minutes early.
  • I rang the doorbell at the exact time of the appointment.
  • I dressed in a suit and tie, looking my best.
  • I offered a friendly greeting along with a welcoming smile.
  • I intentionally showed an interest in the unique things people had in their homes, including their pets and children.
  • I focused on making equal eye contact with both the husband and wife.
  • I left a professional marketing book, highlighting my services for them to review between appointments.
  • I sent a handwritten thank-you note after my initial appointment.
  • In my phone conversations, I spoke with a smile and a friendly tone.

Every little thing I did during the entire sales process created a first impression on a prospective client. From the car I was driving to the way I handled myself in the follow-up call, everything was a first impression. I am convinced that all of these little first impressions when added together played a valuable role in placing me in the top 1% of 1% of all Realtors.  It is the same philosophy that has allowed me to excel in my various endeavors.

I want to challenge you to start being aware of all the little first impressions you are making on people.  Remember, these tiny impressions, when combined together, form your personal brand, ultimately influencing every part of your life.

Let me encourage you to make a list of all the first impressions you are making on the people who are important in helping you achieve your goal.  To give you a headstart, here is a list of ten:

1.  The first email you send. The first email someone receives from you makes an impression.  How is it formatted?  Is the tone friendly?  Is the message clear?  Is it concise?  Has it been proofed?

2.  The first time you greet someone. Do you smile?  Do you make eye contact?  Are you friendly?  Do you repeat his or her name? Is your greeting warm and welcoming?  Do you initiate a handshake?

3.  The first time someone sees you. The way you look leaves a big imprint in someone’s mind. What clothes are you wearing?  How much makeup do you have on?  What do your shoes look like?  Is your hair neat and are your nose, ears, and eyebrows trimmed?  It all matters.

4.  The first time someone sees your car. While the car itself will certainly be noticed, the cleanliness of the car—both inside and outside—will draw attention.  I have never met anyone who took pride in their work but not their car.

5.  The first time you engage in a meaningful conversation with someone. Is it all about you?  Do you listen with interest?  Do you talk non-stop?  Do you ask questions showing an interest in the other person? Do you use inappropriate language?

6.  The first time you are faced with a challenge. How do you react? What is your process for addressing the situation?  How do you treat others involved? You can be assured everyone will be watching.

7.  The first time you interact with a waiter or waitress. The way people treat the waitpersons tells me a lot about how they treat people.

8.  The first time you are involved in a group conversation. How someone interacts with a group of people, from their listening skills to the eye contact they make with each group member, is recognized.

9.  The first time you have a phone conversation with someone. How do you answer your phone?  What is your phone energy?  Do you listen without interrupting?

10.  The first time someone hears your personal cell phone greeting. Don’t think your voicemail greeting isn’t a big deal.  It’s your conscious choice of how you want to brand yourself to every caller.  Does your voicemail greeting properly reflect how you want to be perceived?

I’m sure you could list many more first impressions we make on people. Each of these little first impressions will play a defining role in everything from your relationships to your career.  To improve the first impression you make on people, let me encourage you to read the related posts below.

Start focusing on making your first impressions count, while at the same time becoming the person who is consistent with the brand you are creating for yourself.  As you strive to become the person you need to be to achieve your goals, you will begin to make many positive first impressions without even trying.  They will become part of your standard operating procedure.

Don’t ever allow yourself to think something doesn’t matter.  Everything matters.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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