First Impressions

Reputations and First Impressions

It’s never too early to start making a first impression. An experienced COO of a successful young company in London allows his department heads to conduct recruitment interviews but, before he approves any offer to younger applicants, he checks the internet – primarily social media – for any relevant insights into the candidate’s recent behaviour.

Similarly, for applicants with industry experience, he draws on a wealth of contacts established over many years; he may even have come across the candidate before. It is essential for the company to maintain their excellent reputation in order to remain a successful smaller business in an ocean of major corporates.

Unimpressive first impressions are not reserved just for naïve graduates; there are a few entrepreneurs who could learn a thing or two about how others perceive them. Here is our ‘bottom ten’ of faux-pas.

  1. Show respect. Remember that this meeting could lead to greater things for you so put any personal prejudices aside and keep an open mind.
  2. Presentation. Dress to an acceptable level. It needn’t be a suit but, unless you are promoting your new line in slogan T-shirts, avoid wearing one. And, whatever you choose to wear, it shouldn’t be crumpled, dirty or fashionably tatty.
  3. Eyes. If it’s a brilliantly sunny day and you are wearing sun-glasses, take them off. Not showing your eyes can be taken as a lack of sincerity.
  4. Hand-shake. Strong and brief on the first meeting. Limp or lingering can be considered a bit creepy.
  5. Smile, sincerely, as appropriate. Even if you’ve had the worst day of your life, don’t bring people down with you or you will always be remembered with negativity.
  6. Focus. Look at the person who is speaking and pay attention to everything that is said to you. Interact when required, to show that you are listening but don’t interrupt until it’s your turn.
  7. Speaking. When it’s your turn to speak, make sure it’s not “me, me, me, me, me.” If they ask about you, keep it relevant and to the point; otherwise, let the other person do the talking and you will learn more about him or her for your next encounter.
  8. Be Cool. Don’t try to score points by bragging or name-dropping, even if you think it will help find some common ground. Do you really need to name drop to make yourself interesting?
  9. Name, not shame. Remembering someone’s name throughout the meeting and beyond will extend that good first impression. If this is a problem, there are helpful techniques that you could try.
  10. THE BIG ONE: PUT YOUR SMARTPHONE ON SILENT AND PUT IT AWAY. There is almost nothing ruder than diverting your attention from your new acquaintance to your phone.

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