First Impressions


We all know, and understand, that first impressions make all the difference, whether you are going in for a job interview, making that all too important contact with a prospective client, or meeting people at a networking event.  Get it right and things go smoothly, get it wrong and you will likely never get a second chance.

I found myself in a situation the other day that left me feeling lost, bewildered and somewhat confused about first impressions.  I had arranged a meeting with a key contact, an influential person, and a difficult meeting to arrange as this person is very busy.  I showed up at their office a little early and was sharing sailing stories with the office manager before the meeting, all very normal stuff.  The person I was to meet came out and asked me to come into their office, again very normal stuff.  What happened next was not.  This person sat down, that was it.  No greeting, no introduction, no hand shake, nothing.  I had never met this person before, never talked to them, in fact this was my first contact.  The meeting had been arranged through the office manager.  It occurred to me at the time that nothing in my business life had prepared me for this.  I ended up initiating the conversation, introduced myself and the purpose of the meeting, and launched into it.  The result of the meeting was good, not quite all that I expected, or had hoped for, but good none the less.

On reflecting on this later, I’m still at a loss on how I could have handled the situation differently.  I did think that I could have stood there with my hand out to shake theirs, but that might have ended up in an awkward situation where they would have had to stand back up.  The first impression I wanted to make did not include potentially embarrassing the person I was meeting with or making them unconformable.  So my first impression of this person was not great but that’s OK, I was there asking for their help.  I can’t help but wonder though, what their first impression was of me?  I’m still not sure what could have been done differently, but if a similar situation arises, I may just stand there with hand out to shake theirs, and see what would happen.

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