Mike Regina - How to Make a Great First Impression

We may all think we crush first impressions. 

But do we really?

I’m going to remind you why a thought-out first impression is vital to expand our  professional and personal lives.

Strategic, sincere first impressions are fundamental for continued prosperity wherever we are in life, from just starting out after college to moving to another city to accept an executive position. And, of course, this spills equally into our personal life. 

We have only one shot to make an exceptional first impression. 

For some of us, we may be happy in our career and our social worlds, so meeting new people may not be a top priority. Maybe you have even gotten lazy about putting that critical right foot forward every time you shake a new person’s hand. Maybe you don’t think you need to make impactful first impressions anymore.

Make no mistake. We make first impressions every day. And each one matters.

We have two choices. One, we can stay in that comfort zone and only be around people we have known for years professionally and personally. Growth will be limited.

Growth only comes via expansion, so take the second path and throw yourself into uncomfortable situations. Apply for a new job. Expand a social circle. If you truly want that growth and ascension, you need to embrace every opportunity. Wake up and be conscious of how you are presenting yourself. A first impression is being an actor walking onto a theater stage and doing the same performance every night, but being prepared to deliver during the unexpected. 

Make a memorable first impression. Remember, you only have one shot.

 I’m going to share a story about a recent hire for my company. (This is just one example that comes to mind; these rules apply to all first impressions). I had a position open for a marketing assistant.  One of the four questions for this role was very straight forward:

“How are your creative writing skills?”

I was struck by one-word descriptors like: “Great”.

Really? Come on! Meet me half-way! CREATIVE WRITING. I was offering an opportunity to shine creatively by giving me a creative answer! This is classic “show” versus “tell”.  Instead, I got: “Great.” In this example, that first impression gave me a preview of the work that I would then expect if I hired that person. I wanted more than “Great”. Do not underestimate the power of your responses. Remember, we only have one shot.

Here are 3 key points to remember for every first impression:

  1. Prepare

In the job-search scenario, that would mean doing deep research into the company and employees. Know everything that they do, and know exactly how you can help them succeed. Look up the company on social media to understand the type of work they do, get a feel for who they are, and get a grasp for the company culture. Having this knowledge will prepare you to have higher-frequency discussions during the interview.

In our company’s most recent hire, one of the candidates was very knowledgeable about our company – you could tell she did her research. Her core values lined up with the company’s mission, and she knew that the position aligned with her passions. Because this candidate prepared well, her first impression was a lasting impression!

  1. Ask questions

You are interviewing them just as they are interviewing you. You need to assess if this makes sense and feels right for you. Pay attention to their first impression on you. That could set the entire tone for your professional relationship — both positively and negatively. 

All new interactions are potential new relationships.

  1. Share about yourself

Employers are going to want to get to know you. Your character, your logic skills, your emotional intelligence, your successes and your failures. Small, anecdotal stories about yourself are vital for employers to get a deeper understanding of your character and thought process. Within the context of that conversation, disclose real information to show your dimensions. Remember, sitting in uncomfortable, raw first impressions is the only way to ascend to higher success. BE MEMORABLE.

Also remember that prospective boss is not the only person in the company you will meet and interact with. Think about it. There were many people you came across on your way to that interview conference room. Were you polite to the security guard in the building? Were you friendly to the receptionist as you were waiting in the lobby? These are all important touching points that too many people neglect. All first impressions. 

That security guard could be that employer’s brother-in-law. The receptionist — every company’s gatekeeper — could have been in the company since it was a start-up. They each deserve the exact same respect and effort you give that potential-employer. They deserve your 100% best first impression.

Again, this is larger than just applying for a new job. This is about all aspects of our life. Look at every interaction as a first impression, and even if it’s your 200th day at your job, show up like it is your first. Show up with a first impression like you are walking onto that stage facing a full audience in a theater every night. 

I challenge you to make your first impression your best performance yet!