My guest this week is my friend, Dennis Zink who is a volunteer, certified mentor and our chapter chairman of the Manasota, Florida SCORE.
He is the creator and host of “Been There, Done That!” a nationally syndicated business podcast series. He is also a ‘serial entrepreneur’ and a business consultant. His comments are always wise and I enjoy his weekly articles in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.
In Dennis’s words:
“In my past life as a magazine publisher, I created a business-support entity known as Second Impressions. Second Impressions was a customized publishers’ reprint company. I thought the name was clever because it gave a second chance to make a first impression.
First impressions have the ability to make or break a business, and a positive experience can create a long-lasting business relationship. Making a good first impression is particularly important when it comes to meeting customers, pitching potential clients or interviewing — whether you are the interviewer or the candidate (interviewee.)
In his comprehensive research on communication, sociologist Albert Mehrabian found that in a face-to-face encounter, 7 percent of a message comes from the words used; 38 percent comes from the vocal tone, pacing and inflection; and 55 percent of the message is transmitted by the speaker’s appearance and non-verbal cues (body language.)
First impressions have a great impact on the direction of a business relationship. Since you have about seven seconds to “size up” the person — and vice-versa — an inventory is taken of your smile, handshake, eye contact, how you walk, talk and other ways you present yourself. How can you make this interaction — whether in-person or electronic — work for you? After all, every business relationship should begin on a positive note.
“If people are failing, they look inept. If people are succeeding, they look strong and good and competent. That’s the ‘halo effect.’ Your first impression of a thing sets up your subsequent beliefs. If the company looks inept to you, you may assume everything else they do is inept,” psychologist Daniel Kahneman said.
Preparation is all-important. Being well-prepared will help build your self-confidence. It will also enable you to display a relaxed persona that helps you engender likeability and trust. After all, people want to do business with people they like and trust.
First impressions usually start with the visual. Fair or unfair, right or wrong, everyone does this! Whether it’s done consciously or subconsciously, people look at you and make that initial judgment.
Second impressions follow. You’ve met the person and you are talking to them. Ask for their name and repeat it: “Nice to meet you, Fred.” Be aware of your hand movements; they should be comfortable and not too animated. It’s okay to be yourself (who else are you going to be), but be your best self. Be positive, friendly, casual, and comfortable. Shake hands as appropriate. Acknowledge the first interaction with a thank you note or meaningful follow-up. This will help you get a second chance to make a first impression and develop your business relationship.
Before that first impression
Do your homework by researching the company and the person you will be meeting. This will help you ask intelligent, pertinent questions as the situation warrants. Use LinkedIn and the company’s website to educate yourself about their business. Record your voice and use video to see how you look to others.
Other first impressions
When you send an initial email to someone, they form an impression before you meet in person. Your business card and company brochures provide a breadcrumb trail about you, your company and the type of person you are. Hire an experienced, talented artist to help deliver a professional look. Make sure there are no typos and that your grammar is correct. Dress neatly, with your shoes shined and your clothes clean and pressed.
“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark,” says Jay Danzie, author of “Success in Progress.”
** A big thanks to Dennis- I always learn from you.