1 – Know who you are talking to
Can you tell when someone is speaking to you who obviously has no clue (or interest) in who you are and what interests you? I have. And in the same way, I have overlooked this at times when I meet someone or make a presentation. To correct this, I will do any of the following to get to know someone or some audience better.
– When introduced and after the name exchanges, I'll be sure my first question is about them to find out more about them.
– If the person introduces us says something about them I didn't understand, I'll quickly follow up with “Tell me more about … (what they just said)”.
– If I'm speaking to a large audience, I'll get there early enough to introduce myself to some of the early attendees and talk with them to know more about their interest in hearing me. (It also helps that I can look at them in the presentation and I fell they are someone I know.)
2 – Eye Contact
I've read that the initial first seven seconds of one-on-one eye contact is critical. Don't make someone uncomfortable by staring, but at least control your eyes to look into theirs and not look away. For audiences, look around the room at the faces! Some public speakers are afraid to look at the reaction of their audience faces but I embrace it. I can adjust knowing their reactions. (More on public speaking another time.)
When you first meet, demonstrating some empathy by mirroring their words, volume, manner of speaking, dialect (as appropriate) can raise the comfort level between you. Be genuine and don't go to any extremes that takes you away from your own comfort zone here. For example, I'm a 62 year old male with kids and grandchildren – establishing a report with a modern day rapper doesn't require me to speak rapper lingo and slouch! I just need to mirror more of the pace and show openness to listening.
4 – Listen actively
Speaking of openness to listening, one simple active listening skill is to use proper body language that says you want to hear more from them. Crossed arms and head back signals you are closed or skeptical. Active listening also requires you to be able to shut off all the other thoughts and concentrate on what they are saying. Don't be afraid to ask them to repeat something they said that is obviously important but you don't quite understand. Also, you may repeat back to them something they said just to help them know you hear them or just want more information about it.
5 – Name calling – use THEIR name
I continually have to say their name silently or to them to make it stick in my head. When I use their name appropriately in greeting or other comments, I reinforce to them I care and have interest in them as an individual. That will make the positive impression stick.
6 – Express Gratefulness
I use “thank you” a lot when talking with someone because they have added value to me. Use their name and comment on what the conversation was about. “Thank you John for working in this store on the holiday”. Also, showing gratitude is something they may not encounter as much as you think – that will really make an impression!
I've always heard it said that you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. Hopefully these ideas help you connect and grow your business one good impression at a time!
p.s. Since this is an online community- do you see some of the challenges in making a good first impression? What are some of the things you have learned to help you make a good online first impression? Please share your ideas in the comments on this post. Thanks!