It’s an accepted fact, right? First impressions are critical in the business world. They are especially important if you’re trying to sell services.
In seven seconds a potential client will determine whether they’ll buy from you or your firm.
If your shoes aren’t shined, a hair is out of place, or you stumble on your words…you’ll blow it.
Let’s think, for a second, about the enormous pressure that puts on us. You have to make a great first impression or you’ll blow the opportunity.
But is that really true? Do first impressions really make or break you?
Or is this some overhyped nonsense that people blindly accept as truth?
Let’s explore first impressions.
What Might A Bad First Impression Look Like?
Let’s imagine the worst case first impression scenario.
You are at a networking event and see a potential client. You muster up the courage to walk up to her.
But as you approach, you trip and spill your drink on her. And you fall face first onto the table (which promptly breaks).
As you fall, your irritable bowels kick in and it sounds like you’re wrestling the world’s largest whoopie cushion (and losing). To make matters worse, your face has landed in the client’s dessert, her favorite type of fudge brownie.
One of the servers doesn’t see you and, stumbling over you, they accidently drop chocolate pudding on the back of your pants.
You stand up to see the potential client is horrified. Her outfit is ruined.
And, as you stand up, this potential client notices a big glob of chocolate pudding falls from your pants. Worst of all, the brownie on your lip makes you look like you have a Hitler mustache.
You’ve just made the worst first impression ever.
But Is It Over?
Now, if everything you hear from the “experts” is right, you should just crawl into a hole and live out the remainder of your life with the rest of the mole people.
Don’t listen to them.
If your true focus, your true desire is to help people…
…and your actions back that up…
…it doesn’t matter what someone’s first impression of you is.
It’s the last impression that matters.
There are people who I initially had great admiration for. There are people I almost worshiped. But I would describe many of these people as worthless today.
Sure, they are smart people who dress professionally. But their intentions are not honorable.
And there are people who, after seven seconds, I thought were weirdos. But after a few interactions, I recognized how amazing these people are.
Plus, I can cite plenty of instances where I had a great first impression of a salesperson, but my last impression is terrible.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this too. So, why do we believe the “common wisdom” about first impressions?
The Cop And The Cop Out
I think there are two things going on here.
First, I think the concept of first impressions being critical was a way for people to convince others to look and act the way they wanted. This was before people dressed like Mark Zuckerberg could be business leaders. I feel like there are some outdated and leftover ideals from that age.
Second, I think we use it as a cop-out. Honestly, I do. If you feel like your first interaction with a potential client didn’t go well…
…it’s easy to give up or try less. It’s easy to blame it on a bad first impression. Or you might claim that someone not calling you back is rude and use your bad first impression of them as a reason to stop trying. Either way, the concept of first impressions is used as a cop-out, an escape hatch.
The First Impression Matters Little, It’s The Last Impression That Matters Most
Yes, there is such a thing as first impressions. It’s been studied.
But in reality, first impressions aren’t that important. If you didn’t nail that first interaction, don’t worry about it. It’s not the first impression that matters, it’s the last impression.
There is very little you can do in the first seven seconds of meeting someone that will ruin your chances with them. Don’t stress out over it.
Sure, there are some people you just won’t be able to reach. Nobody is going to be 100% successful. But if you truly want to help this person and your actions prove it, their last impression of you will end up being pretty good. That, my friend, is what truly matters.
Now It’s Your Turn
Share a time when your first impression of someone was way off. Or share a story about how you changed someone’s first impression of you. Write it down in the comments section. I’ll read every one.