5 Tips on Making an Unforgettable Impression

On average, people create a first impression of someone else they meet within only 7 seconds.  Making the best of those 7 seconds is key.  On top of that, first impressions are critical to building trust in a relationship.  According to Robert Lount, who conducted a study at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, “If you get off on the wrong foot [with a first impression], the relationship may never be completely right again.”

To ensure you build a strong and trusting relationship right from the beginning, here are 5 distinct ways to make a great impression, before, during and after an important meeting in your career, to ensure you set the stage for the best first impression possible.

1. Improve Your Online First Impression

Any online presence is the initial first impression you make on others, even before they make contact with you. Due to this fact, it is important to keep your social media—such as LinkedIn-- updated with your latest credentials and press. Here are 3 tips on how to make your LinkedIn the best it can be:

A.  Find a professional but catchy photo. Update your profile with a professional photo of yourself, yet one that makes you stand out.  Adding effects, such as black and white, is an unusual and catchy way to get others’ attention.

B.  Join Groups.  Are you an alumni of a university with a strong network? Or focusing your startup on a particular industry?  This is a great way to build rapport with others, and also find out the latest news/events occurring in those groups.

C.  Maximize your Headline: utilize the 120 characters in your headline to their full potential.  A memorable and impressive headline such as, “CTO of X Corporation: Serving over 200 milion customers” is better than just “CTO of X Corporation”.   Look at this headline as your elevator pitch—what do you want people to remember about you in this initial impression?

2. Create a highly Customized Message

Sending a target contact a special customized message-- such as a video voicemail--  builds a personal connection with that audience, as well as gains their attention for a full 3 minutes.  Screencast-O-Matic is a great way to perform this process-- it is free and fairly easy to use.  

This process brings the human interaction and connection back into the touchpoint you’re trying to build.  Think of it as a custom commercial personally catered to the person you’re trying to reach out to.  Whether a potential investor, client, or even reporter, this is a great way to build that human connection.  Here is an example of a video voicemail (a general one) I created for a client, explaining what our company does.  This tactic has greatly shortened inside sales cycles at our company, where we otherwise would never be able to meet those clients in person.

Some Tips to Save you Some Time:

  1. Make the background clean cut.  Make sure to have a white background when filming-- no distractions to break the connection with your viewer!

  2. Keep it short and sweet.  Anything over 3 minutes is too much. 1 minute is best.

  3. Smile at the beginning. The freeze frame of the video needs to be enticing enough that the viewer would like to click “play”.  

  4. Title the video with your contact’s name.  “Hey Bob” will make Bob more curious to play the video more than a title just saying “Hello”

Once you confirm a meeting—call or in-person meeting—here is a way continue to foster that great in-person first impression.  

3.  Before the Meeting: Utilize Body Language to Your Advantage

Before any major meeting, take 5-10 minutes to step aside in a private place such as a restroom, and practice 3-4 power poses to increase your confidence levels and decrease your anxiety.  This TED Lecture by Amy Cuddy explains more in detail the benefits of this exercise, and the profound impact it can have on important meetings.

Whether it is a call or an in-person meeting you’re preparing for, these exercises can help increase your confidence during these important moments.  Want to learn more about how to utilize body language in business? You can take the Udemy course, “Body Language for Entrepreneurs here.  

4.  Improve your Listening Skills

During the meeting, listening is also a major way to build rapport and a connection in an immediate way.  Below are some key tips on how to improve your listening skills during meetings:

A.  Prevent Interruptions: Turn your phone on silent.  Meet in a quieter location with few distractions.  Never interrupt the person you’re meeting with unless you absolutely have you.  Prevent anything that could block rapport during the meeting and impair you listening to the conversation.

B.  In Person Meeting? Make Eye Contact as much as possible while listening: with so many distractions on a day to day basis, it is hard to remember to make eye contact with others.  However, the quickest way to build rapport and trust in an immediate way is to make eye contact as much as possible.

C.  On a Call?  Close your eyes while listening. : This might be difficult to do, but this allows you to fully focus on what the other person is saying during the conversation.  

5.  Send A Follow-up “Thank you” Message

Continue to build rapport and a positive impression even after a preliminary meeting.  By sending a “thank you” email within 24 hours after the meeting, you show respect to the person you met with for his/her time and attention.  Include in the email any information (an introduction, tip, etc.) that you said you would provide—for remember--  the more you give the more you can get back.  

Interested in what you need to do to create a great impression as a leader? Click here to read this Startup Grind blog post to find out how.  

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