Are You Making a Good Impression?
There’s an article in the Daily Mail today about making a great first impression although I’m not sure why they put it in the Female section. Do men not want or need to make a good first impression?! Anyhoo! I digress.
While the points made in the article are very valid, a good handshake, eye contact and a willingness to engage are all really important, what about if you’re past that first impression stage and are thinking more about your general presence in the workplace and in meetings? I went to a meeting yesterday where a number of us were looking to secure work from a Provider who presented the proposed work in the form of a meeting instead of holding individual interviews. I thought it was a good approach but one guy said nothing at all in the meeting other than his name. I left the meeting thinking a number of things – was he interested in the work or not, was he enthusiastic about it, did he have the relevant experience and if he didn’t speak up in the meeting how well would he engage with their clients? He didn’t say anything to make any sort of impression and so by default he made a less than positive impression on me! The Provider had our CVs so they would have known whether his experience was relevant but after the meeting I thought ‘whatever he does now, to follow up, will have to be totally amazing in order to contradict the impression he made in the meeting.’ That’s just my impression though to be fair
We’re all of us making an impression all of the time, whether that be while we’re chatting and laughing with colleagues in the office, attending a meeting or meeting new clients. I understand that people are shy and feel uncomfortable to speak up in meetings, and sometimes it can be difficult to find a space to get into the conversation, but please say something if you can. Make that good impression because you never know when it might ‘cash in’.
Senior Managers can be very good at sitting back and observing people in a meeting. They are watching out for people who impress them so try to be in that group. Prepare something to say, an important point in what’s being discussed and think about contacting the meeting chair beforehand to say that you have points to raise if you feel that you’ll struggle to speak up. They can help you find the space in the meeting to put those points across. If speaking in meetings and making small talk with new clients is not your favourite thing to do, practice and notice how you improve. I used to practice small talk with shop assistants when I got to the till. Just small stuff like ‘has it been busy today?’. Arrive early to meetings. The chair will often be there to set up so offer to help with that or just do some initial chat about the meeting and who else is going to be there. First impressions count, but so do all of the rest them!!
A fabulous friend of mine sent me this quote last week – “don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant” – Robert Louis Stevenson. Making an impression at work, with colleagues and new contacts is all about sowing seeds and you underestimate it at your peril. I’m not saying you can’t have fun in the office but be a little bit mindful about who your wider audience is. Good impressions take time to grow, less positive ones are almost instant and spread like wildfire on the office gossip grapevine. It can be a leap of faith, to think that your good impressions and the seeds you sow will be of benefit at some point but being seen as a competent professional with intelligent things to say is good for your self esteem as well. Be proud of the good impressions you make, it can lift you on a difficult day.
Go plant some good seeds and have a great day
Take good care.
Best wishes, Karen