It’s no secret that you may never get a second chance to make a first impression. Your first impression can make or break any relationship, job opportunity, or career move. The handshake, appearance, and smile are all elements of the first impression that you have mastered but in the same respect can be the most forgettable. What will define you as a professional, and someone on top of their game is your second impression. After the customary greetings take place is when the person begins to really assess who you are. Don’t marginalize your first chance to make a second impression.
Here are three ways to make a great and lasting second impression.
1. Have a meaningful conversation.
How many times during a conversation in your personal or professional life have you asked yourself, “Why am I even having this conversation?” Every conversation has a point, or there is no point in having it. When you are with family and friends the point of the conversation is often to enjoy each other, laugh, and have fun.
Being professional means understanding that there is an agenda for every conversation. If someone gives you a second of their time make the most of it. After your initial first impression, this will most like be the first conversation that has some substance to it. Even if the conversation is simply to get to know someone better it is important to have a definitive goal in mind. This way you’re a lot less likely to waste time and energy. Know why you are having the conversation.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Don’t anticipate a question or statement, or interrupt.
- Pause and take a second to think before you respond.
- Ask thoughtful questions, that show you are engaged and actively listening.
2. Do your research and refer to something you may have read or heard about the other person.
After trading first impressions and going through the customary greetings, it’s actually time to have a real conversation. This conversation is sometimes the uncomfortable chit-chat about current events, the weather, sports, or the family photo in the person’s office. This is a very predictable and boring approach, and you do not want to leave someone with a second impression that you are boring and predictable.
Try making a remark or asking a question about something you read or heard about the other person. Get the other person to talk a bit more about him or herself by engaging in conversation tied directly to them and their professional life, business or career. Don’t do this if you are not interested in something you read or heard about. People can read fake people. Bring up something that you are genuinely curious about or interested in.
3. Be grateful, express your thanks, then leave.
Nothing will leave a worse second impression than outstaying your welcome. Be aware of the amount of time you scheduled, and stick to it. If the conversation is important to the other person they may want to continue. Remember this is their decision to make not yours. You want to leave your second impression with the other person willing to have another conversation with you. They may even be more than willing, they might want to. Your second impression is the setup for a chance to make a positive third, fourth, and tenth one.
Daron Pressley (@daronpressley) is an entrepreneur and former Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive who has been featured on outlets including Fox45 News, Black Enterprise magazine, and The Washington Post. Knowledgeable in marketing and branding, Pressley works with professional athletes, organizations, and individuals to develop strategies to create, build, and grow brands. As a speaker, Daron has reached more than 20,000 students, and provides dynamic insights on leadership and branding via his website: DaronPressley.com.