Make it Quick!

introIt didn’t take long during my brief exchange with the DIVA to form a first impression; not long at all.  In fact, according to Malcolm Gladwell, whenever we meet someone for the first time, we are able to size someone up in just two seconds – it’s the power of our adaptive unconscious.  In recognition of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink:  The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, let’s celebrate the power of the glance.

When encountering someone for the first time, first impressions count.  This is particularly true when networking with others—you want to leave a positive, memorable impact when meeting others.  Through observation and measurement you can improve your presence and connection – ideally to leverage the encounter for lasting value. 

Think about your first contact with someone.  Do you exhibit the following qualities to make you stand out and be remembered in a positive manner?

  1. Confident:  Do you inspire others?  Do you speak in a sure way? Are you poised and level-headed?
  2. Credible:  Do you have expertise and can you be trusted?  Have often can you persuade others?
  3. Capable:  Do you have what it takes to get the job done?  Are you efficient, effective an expert in your field?
  4. Calm:  Do you remain unruffled during turbulent times? 
  5. Clean:  Do you have a neat appearance?  Can you speak in plain language; get right to the point, present fresh ideas?
  6. Charisma:  Can you use your personal being, rather than speech or logic alone, to interact with others in a real and meaningful way?
  7. Connections:  Do you establish lasting relationships?

Everything you do during the first 2 seconds of an interaction speaks volumes, especially your actions:

  • Do you maintain direct eye contact during dialogue?
  • What do you with your hands when you communicate?
  • Do you face the other person in an “open” pose?
  • Can you stand still?  Do you jiggle your feet, your knee, or your leg?
  • Are you aware of your facial expressions?
  • How’s the pitch of your voice?  Do you speak clearly?

Bring a buddy to the next networking event.  Ask your pal to observe you from a distance—solicit honest feedback when the event is over – How did you do?  What did you do?  Focus on a few improvement opportunities and try again, but make it quick.

Lisa DiTullio, Principal, Lisa DiTullio & Associates, LLC


3 thoughts on “Make it Quick!”

  1. Lisa,

    Thank you for this post.

    In this global economy which we are now part of, I think we should also take into account the cultural context of the interaction. Not all cultures (especially eastern cultures) have the same notions about first impressions. Eye contact, as a classic example, communicates very different things to people of various cultures.

    I think that, when we meet new people, being authentic and genuine is important and safest strategy in the long term than how you come across during the first 2 seconds.

    If the intent of an interaction is to make a true connection, then we will always have another chance to make a second impression. On the other hand, making a judgment about a person in first 2 seconds can lead to missed opportunities to really get to know some great people.

    Although our first impulse is to make quick 2-second judgment, we should train ourselves to slow down. With curiosity and patience, we may have a chance to discover the real person behind the not so great first impression.

    Samad Aidane

  2. User Avatar

    Although it is human nature to size people up quickly, doing so too quickly can also close our minds to people who might be amazing, but who, for any number of reasons, didn’t make it past our snap-judgement filters. We have to continuously re-evaluate our own personal filters to be sure they are not over-filtering. We need to be ready to modify them.

    With that caveat said, Lisa is right-on. We all give off impressions from our dress, attitude and behavior that can affect whether or not we make it through others’ filters. We must be aware of the ‘norm’ for the situation and try to tune ourselves to fit, if we want to be accepted. I’ve observed that the most successful people in this world are those who adapt to other’s filters quickly.

    This reminds me of a story…on my first day of work fresh out of college, I showed up in a suit and tie in an organization that was smart casual at it’s more dressy. I was not ridiculed when I showed up for the on-site interview in a three-piece, but on my first official day, even losing one piece was still enough to get me razzed. I just about lost my new tie to a pair of scissors. So, we need to be adaptable to fit the situation.

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