This summer has brought about a lot of changes for me, not the least of which included a new job. Many of you may be starting a new semester (maybe your first semester) or a new job as well. Let’s talk about first impressions and exceeding expectations.
We are constantly presented with chances to make first impressions–this is a tremendous opportunity. The truth is these opportunities are usually wasted, wasted by people not taking risks or not taking the opportunity to be remarkable and delight others. We’re all guilty of it at some time or another, it’s easy to pass these opportunities up when we’re pressed for time.
Who, What, and How?
I propose that being remarkable and making a strong first impression isn’t really that hard. I think it’s made up of just a few elements: (1) Who is my audience? (2) What really matters to them? And (3) how can I exceed their expectations?
Understanding your audience is probably the hardest part of this whole equation, honestly. I’m not just talking about a label, like manager, professor, brother, customer, wife, boyfriend, etc. I’m talking about how you would actually describe this person to someone else.
Now that you’ve framed the audience–it should be easier to identify what matters to them. What do they care about? Put yourself in their shoes; imagine their priorities and what their issues might be. Also, there’s nothing wrong with asking people what they care about–this is a great exercise actually. As you meet and interact with people, ask them what they care about. People love to talk about themselves.
Exceed their expectations. It’s easy. People are pretty much used to being underwhelmed and barely having their expectations met (even if they don’t consistently realize it). If you can do a good job at figuring out what matters to people and what they expect, then you should have absolutely no problem delighting them.
A quick story
I travel often enough to have a certain expectation of the service I will receive. I recently checked into a W Hotel, owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts. About 20 minutes after check-in I received a call from the front desk with two questions: Was everything okay with my room? And, was there anything else they could do for me? Such a simple act–a phone call and a few questions (at the right time)–and my expectations were exceeded.
W Hotels makes exceeding expectations part of their corporate brand–you can make it part of your personal brand.
Jonathan has broad ranging experience and currently works in eMarketing at Thomson Reuters in the Twin Cities area. He is a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University where he majored in Marketing. Prior to returning to Thomson Reuters, where he had an internship during college, he worked for Expedia in an account management role for their North American lodging business. Jonathan is an avid enthusiast of all things marketing, economics, and travel. And, he is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter (@jonathanpetrino), LinkedIn, and his website.