Did you know that I spent over an hour just working on my profile that I submitted for this blog? Over 60 minutes for 151 words–seems kind of ridiculous when you look at it like that eh? Then again, is it? That profile is the first impression I’ll be leaving with some readers so I put some time into it. The same way you may take a little more time getting ready for a first date or before an interview: you want to put your best foot forward.
Let’s say you’re meeting someone who you know will be to help you reach your goal: this person may be a mentor, an influencer, a hiring manager, a professor, the options are endless! What should you do to make a good first impression?
Do the Prep Work
If you have the luxury of knowing when this monumental conversation is going to take place, you have an advantage: you can prepare. Learn about the person you’re going to meet: What are they known for? What is their expertise? Do you have something in common? Can you find any information on what their personality or style is? Getting to know your target audience will help you tailor your approach.
Next you want to think about the content of that conversation: What’s the context of when/how you are going to meet them? What do you want to walk away from the conversation with? What can you offer? Do you have an elevator speech? What are next steps to continue to conversation?
Some folks are blessed with the gift of the gab–I know you know who I’m talking about. You know, that friend who always seems to know the entire room, the one who can always think on his feet, the one who can make friends with a chair–yep, that’s the guy (or gal!) Well, not everyone is like that. In fact, most people aren’t. Thinking on your feet and mastering conversation doesn’t happen overnight, experience and practice take you there.
You have your background, you’ve thought about your content, the next step is the practice! Find a friend. Tape yourself if you can’t find a friend and listen to yourself. And if that sounds too complicated, even a mirror will do. The common link across all three of these ideas is that you spend some time listening to yourself and hearing the words come out of your mouth. Think about your choice of words, the cadence of your speech and your volume. Do you make eye contact? Do you seem nervous? Simply identifying these things will help you notice the behavior and work at adjusting them.
Just Be Yourself
Last tip, but most important: be yourself. When you make a first impression, you do want to put your best foot forward, but that’s also it–it’s YOUR foot. Even with all of the preparation and practice in the world, there are two parts to first impressions: the first impression you leave on someone and the first impression they leave on you.
You also want to be sure that you’re not dominating the conversation and the other person is engaged–but that’s a whole different blog post. Trust your gut and your instincts and the rest will come. The conversation might take a different path than you hoped, but you’ll have given it your best shot.
With many communication channels moving away from face-to-face and going online, how does that first impression change? Does the intention change? Does the behavior change? What do you do differently? To be honest, it doesn’t change all that much. You still want to put your best foot forward and prepare for online or non-face-to-face interactions in the same manner as you would if you were meeting someone in person.
There you have it–my first blog post and now I’ve left my first impression on many of you.
Sejal is a Recruitment Marketing Project Manager at Intel. She is part of the team that is responsible for Intel’s global employment brand. This team helps connect candidates with Intel and Intel with candidates using channels such as the Jobs at Intel web site, the Life at Intel microsite and other Web 2.0 channels. Sejal specifically manages theJobs at Intel Blog and Intel’s recruitment Facebook strategy. Originally from Toronto, Ontario (yes—a real, breathing Canadian!), Sejal graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with her Bachelor’s in Communications before starting at Intel in 2008. When she’s not working, you’ll find Sejal working at crossing things off of her Bucket List (which includes skydiving, reading 1000 books and traveling the world), eating cupcakes or spending time with family and friends. To learn more about opportunities with Intel, visit intel.com/jobs, follow Intel on Twitter @JobsatIntel or check out the Jobs@Intel blog!