Nailing The First 15 Seconds: Making A Killer First Impression
Where Did It All Go Wrong?
This has been by far my most popular post in the nine months that I have blogged, and I thought it was time to revisit it and keep the conversation going. There are some incredible comments up for review. Some of my childhood friends even chimed in to challenge me with some of my content in the post. I would love you to take a read and respond with your honest feelings on the subject. Maybe I will turn this conversation in to a mini e-book or something in the future because it sure captivated my readers. Enjoy!
I recently returned from a trip to my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Winnipeg is 8 hours north of Minneapolis, Minnesota if you are unaware. This is the first time in my career that I am able to work in my hometown since I moved away 11 years ago, and I was very excited to reconnect in my community.
Although most of the trip was awesome, I had a surprising conversation with somebody from my past that bothered me greatly. For those of you who know me well, I have “facial recognition software” engrained in my brain for remembering people who I grew up with. I was at the 100th anniversary of the suburb that I grew up in last Saturday and approached at least 15 people from my youth that I had not seen in 4EVER! That was so much fun. I digress…
I was at a trade show earlier in the week and ordered supper at a concession stand. I changed my drink order, and the person serving me smiled and gave a double take. They saw that I was wearing a name tag, and asked if I went to school in the suburb that I actually grew up in. I paused for a moment and said yes. Instead of saying that I did not remember them, I asked what their name was. After they replied, I instantly recognized their face.
The difficult part of the dialog is they hesitated to say their name out of embarrassment for the job that they were doing. I took a few moments to speak with them after receiving my drink, and saw them the next day as well.
21 years removed from high school, I was not expecting somebody to be working in that setting, and my “facial recognition software” was not activated at the time. If they were proud of the job that they were doing, and did not care what others thought, they would have had no issue telling me what their name was.
There is a silver lining for this person. It is never too late to change career paths. The generation of “go to school, get a job, find somebody, get married, have some kids, work at the same thing for 40+ years and retire” is long gone.
One of my best friends dropped everything in his late 30’s, started working towards a totally different career, and is now very close to completing his studies.
We can’t turn back the clock and hit “reset” to that day that we walked out of high school with that diploma in hand, but we can certainly hit the “reset” button RIGHT NOW and start working towards something more fulfilling.
If there is anything this experience really taught me, is that I have to keep working towards what I really want out of life, no matter how hard it seems sometimes. I would rather fall flat on my face and know that I tried, than think about it, and never do anything. I don’t care if you are in sales, management, general business, or doing whatever keeps you paying the bills, but be sure that you are happy doing it.
I will always keep trying, scratching and clawing towards surpassing my goals, no matter how tough things seem to get. Just ask those who played hockey against me when I was a one man wrecking crew pushing for victory as a kid!
- How is your job/career going?
- Are you jumping out of bed excited about what you are doing from the moment your feet hit the floor each morning?
- If you had an unexpected meeting with somebody from your past, would you be embarrassed to tell them what you are doing?
- If so, whatcha gonna do about it?
presenting like a rock star
Broc does an awesome job discussing why presenting is so critical to your success. I realized this several years ago when I joined Toastmasters. Broc and I are online friends now, and his content “rocks”!
Does anyone else go to concerts and try to figure out how to do your job better? No? A side effect of being a presenter and facilitator is that I cannot attend any training, speech, or event without noticing what is done well, what could be better, and what I can learn from it.
Eighteen months ago I wrote a post called “Rock and Roll Presentation Skills” after seeing one of my favorite European bands perform. As a presenter, this band inspires me more than any other with their stage presence, energy, and connection to the crowd. By sheer coincidence the same band was performing in Dallas the same weekend I was there to attend HRevolution and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them again.
Reflecting on what I took from this performance, the presentation lessons hold true with what I learned from their last performance.
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Engaging People Is Not Only A “Work Thing”
The only way that you are going to get better at something is through practice. I read a quote in a hockey book once that really caught my attention:
“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect” – Vince Lombardi
Even those with raw talent have to practice regularly. Engaging others in sales and other professional roles should not be limited to work relationships. You should practice engaging others when possible.
My dad was a teacher, and is still very engaging to this day – partially because of his personality, but it was also a necessity for his career. Could you imagine being in front of a class of kids and not holding their attention? Teachers who could captivate the crowd were always the ones that remained memorable to me. This also meant that my dad and I could never quickly go to a mall because he was always running into people. Conversations would start, and time would pass by. My mom would always comment upon our return, “Where were you? I just sent you for a couple of things!”
There are so many opportunities to engage people outside of work:
- In line at a store
- At a social events with friends
- Business or community events
- Sporting events
- On a walk or a run
- Groups, associations or teams that you and/or your children are part of
I was thinking about this one day after a run, and I reflected on how many people I acknowledge in that 45 minute period. It was about twelve!
- Some greetings were a simple hello or good morning as I passed by
- With others I would make a quick comment on the weather, or about the degree of difficulty of a hill that I (or they) had just ran up
- Some were a quick stop so our dogs could greet each other
- It was common that I ask for information about their dog, and how the person’s day was going
- I even complimented one guy who was actually attempting to train his new puppy
When I engage people in this setting, most people are pleasant back. It is common for people to jog with an iPod or Mp3 player, but I will still turn mine down to say something, or at least wave. I have done this for so long it is second nature now.
If I never practiced this skill, and instead just went through the day keeping to myself, it would be unreasonable to expect that I’d be very good at it in a short time period. Skills would develop eventually, but carrying that philosophy over to your personal life just means that you have more opportunity to practice. Then before you know it, the skill improves.
This was not always easy for me; because I was quite shy growing up due to my stutter. Speaking up and meeting people was very difficult well in to my teenage years. But with practice and patience, I consider myself very engaging now, and will always take time to speak with others.
- Do you only engage new people in work situations?
- Where can you begin to converse with people starting right away in your personal life?
The most practical business skill that has come out of this for me is keeping conversations going when there is a lot of dead air. I think most of us have experienced conversations that were very one-sided, and it was a struggle to keep it going, and interesting for the other person.
Good luck, and remember to always be in “engagement mode”!
Have A Laugh Fridays – AWESOME “Bizcation”
I can’t get enough of this 30 second commercial!
See, being away on business can be relaxing and fun 🙂
Have a great weekend!