WARNING! Establishing a positive first impression is no longer achievable with a firm handshake and a smile. In today’s world, people have already decided whether they like you well before you ever meet them or even say a word.
According to a recent survey commissioned by Dollar Shave Club, it takes the average person 27 seconds to form a first impression about someone they’ve met. Yet, what was more interesting in the same survey was that of 2,000 Americans surveyed, seven out of ten people made their decision before the person even said a word.
So, what does that tell us when it comes to making a good first impression in our personal and professional lives?
Let’s first look at the 27 seconds to make a good first impression. Certainly, within that half minute, you can construct a good first impression with the requisite facial expressions (smiling), body language, attire, eye contact, firm handshake, dry hands, vocabulary/tone, and even your cologne/perfume (smell scores very high in the survey). These physical cues certainly contribute to someone’s assessment on whether they like you or not.
However, as the study briefly touched upon, someone’s impression of you is now made well before they ever meet you.
How do you protect yourself from false impressions from people you’ve haven’t met yet? When you’re about to conduct a job interview, business pitch or go out on a first date, what’s the first thing you do before you to meet with someone? That’s right, you Google search them and look for both positive and negative cues.
What you find or don’t find will frame expectations and impressions before the actual handshake. Therefore, it’s important to establish your personal and professional persona online.
To begin with, in a business scenario such as a job interview, sales pitch, or even a simple coffee meeting, you need to square away the Google search with the prominence of your LinkedIn profile, which is usually within the first 5-10 links. More seasoned professionals will have corporate bios, blogs, articles and other social media, but they still need to have a prominent LinkedIN profile or they risk a negative first impression. If you don’t have a LinkedIN account, it may explain why your network of influence is subpar or that your social life is lacking.
Having a static, unattended LinkedIN account is no longer good enough either. It’s imperative to not only have a LinkedIN account, but you need to have your summary profile updated with a headshot photo at a minimum. A few years ago, executives who didn’t have a photo and 1 follower were considered “too important or too busy” to fret over a LinkedIN account – it was acceptable - they were given a pass.
Today, a lack of online presence or poorly managed social media (Twitter account with Tweet posted years ago) influences a person’s impression of you well before you say hello.
Same applies after you meet someone impromptu for the first time. If that meeting had a good outcome based on the first 27 seconds, then when they do a Google search later, so your online profile should be reinforcing those first impressions, or you risk never hearing back from that new contact.
“The study reveals what assumptions we make when meeting someone new, why we make those assumptions, and how fast it takes us to judge a new book by its cover.”
Be sure to pre-game your profile online to give you the best first impression that elevates your desires for success and happiness, one handshake at a time.
About Patrick Slevin
Patrick Slevin is a former Florida mayor. He is a two-time winner of the PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence for Crisis & Issues Management. Influence Magazine named Slevin one of the "Great Communicators". Slevin has been recognized by Campaigns & Elections Magazine as one of the nation’s top political “Movers’ & Shakers". He is the founder and head of Florida-based SL7 Consulting. www.PatrickSlevin.com