When you’ve been in the sales and marketing industry for some time (or any industry for that matter), you’d come to realize that there are 2 types of persons: Those who take great efforts and time to establish rapport, build connections and earn trust. And those who can capture attention and interest and leave a positive impression within a matter of seconds. The latter are those who can more quickly snag dates, job offers, and business deals.
So what makes these types of people tick? Is it something about their looks, personality, luck or attitude?
More often than not, that difference happens within just the first 7-17 seconds of meeting someone. Or in layman’s terms: that difference is all about the first impression we give. That said, we’re given only few seconds to make a good impression on others when in a new or unfamiliar situation.
If you, like the rest, want to nail these first few seconds, there are few skills psychologically and statistically proven to help—skills anyone, including you can learn:
Dress to impress
While it’s true that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it can’t be denied that physical appearances count and influence our opinion of others (whether we realize this or not). Looks do matter. So even if you try hard to look skin deep, outer appearance will often have an impact in those first few seconds, consciously or subconsciously. It’s why studies often show that all things constant, someone who looks more pleasant looking can more easily get hired or be promoted than someone less presentable. In fact, 55% of a person’s opinion is determined by physical appearance alone.
Dress appropriately for the occasion. When unsure, stay on the conservative side. As some people say, dress up not for yourself but for others. Consider both function AND aesthetics when deciding what to wear.
Carefully choose your words
7% of what we think of others is based on what they say. In the same way, you may want to express certain things but the words you use to say them can mean another thing. For example, the word “proud’’ can have different meanings in various contexts. Have a handy list of words ready for how you want to convey yourself and what impression you’d like to leave. If you’re selling something, prepare yourself with powerful and persuasive words like ‘’attract’’, or ‘’conversion rate’’.
Strike a balance between appearing professional while avoiding technical jargon. The words you use carry an emotional impact. And not only can they affect how others see you. They also influence the way you see things and your outlook.
Your tone matters
Surprisingly, 38% of a person’s first impression of you is determined by your tone of voice. Listen to yourself speak by practicing. Is your tone aligned with your words, gestures and what you want to put across? Oftentimes, we may be using positive words but still leave a negative impression on others simply because of the tones we use. Or we can be delivering the perfect content yet using tones that express nervousness or uncertainty. Tones can also be influenced by your cultural background.
Be conscious of any tonal differences and what they mean when speaking with someone from another culture. For example, highly tonal languages like Chinese and Vietnamese have downward tones to mean certain terms or things. But they can be interpreted as rudeness or anger when communicating with someone whose language has tones which are generally neutral.
Non-verbal communication speaks volumes
A whopping 93% of people’s judgments of others are based on non-verbal input like body language. Be conscious of your facial expression, body posture, and gestures—they can speak a lot more than what you’re verbally telling others, especially if you only have few moments to strike a positive impression. Between expressing positive words and negative actions accompanying them, your audience is likely to believe and recall the latter.
Take note of mannerisms which may you be doing out of habit and mean nothing to you; they can be sending negative messages to others. For example, crossing your arms or fidgeting.
It’s all in the name
One study reveals that addressing potential customers by their name, increases the likelihood that they will respond by 36%. It’s part of boosting personal egos and addressing self-serving biases almost all of us have. It’s also a lot easier to establish a personal connection with others with you mention their names every now and then. This makes sense. We tend to feel valued and more respected when someone remembers and calls us by our names, don’t we? It’s also a subtle way of establishing rapport.
When making efforts to leave a good impression, there’s often a tendency to think that we should be talking a lot. But if you want others to be truly impressed, listening is a skill you should hone especially when engaging in conversations. This shows you value others’ opinions as well. This is a skill often neglected since research shows only about 50% of people retain what they hear.
While it only takes a few seconds to make an impression, sometimes all you need is just that to leave a positive one. By mastering these top qualities of someone who makes a lasting impression on others, you too can make these first few seconds count and make it easier for you to ultimately reach your intended goal.