First impressions count, that snap assessment we make can cloud our judgement and hide untold opportunities. Would it be fair to say we mostly feel our gut instinct and our hyper intuitiveness to others is infallible? Only to be proven wrong time and time again!

We don’t all make flawless first impressions. Nerves take over – we talk too much, too fast or interrupt. We didn’t notice the spilt lunch on our shirt front, the ladder in our tights, the smudged mascara – god forbid!  All forgivable, and managed in the right way can actually make us appear more human and more approachable.

Like most I feel that my gut instinct about people when I first meet them is going to be fairly accurate. A lot of the time that’s true, but what’s really interesting are the ones that I get completely wrong.  For instance, the guy who told me I was “doing it all wrong” as his opening line introduction to me. I’m surprised I remained as calm as I did. He was rude, arrogant, in my face and probably the worst opening EVER – or have you experienced something even worse?

I was as they say “spitting feathers”.  He under-estimated me, my business and jumped in. I judged him badly, very badly. That is until we met again at another event. He came over and apologised, and we chatted. He’s a decent guy, his nerves, too much power-sell reading (US style he told me) and it was over-kill. We actually laughed about it, especially when he told me it was his first and last attempt at the opening line he used on me.

Next time you meet that person, the one who completely gives out all the wrong vibes, take a step back, defer settling on that first impression and take a moment to find out more. There’s always more to a person. Sometimes that more is over-bearing and insufferable, but at least you didn’t close off immediately, pull down the shutters and switch off.

When you meet someone new trying to open a dialogue can be difficult, stilted and by the nature of the questions you ask it can close-down really quickly. If you ask a question you have to listen to the answer. Way too often I find that people ask, nod their head a lot, and quite obviously aren’t listening, and then interrupt to talk about themselves, or ask another inane question.  You know what I’m talking about ….

“So what do you do”?

“I’m an out-sourced admin provider, we help people manage their to-do list and still grow”

Nod, nod, eyes roaming the room and then that interruption “how interesting, I’m currently working on blah blah blah” ….

Sound familiar? We tend to make a mental note to scrap that person from future contact, a no-goer, not my ‘sort’ kind of thing.   However, you have no idea of knowing what that person is really like. It could be an off-day, they’re not great at the first meet. If they’re running a successful business then they’re doing something right, and it would be unwise not to look deeper.  Who they are, what they do, who they know.  Linked-in is a great way to find out more, and allow you to connect on another level.  Find out who they know, what they know and take a second call on it. I think on another level this is called ‘stalking’ –

If scintillating conversation skills don’t come easy, then be a listener. People like to talk about themselves, their business, and you’ll be amazed at what you can find out. Choose your questions wisely, and pay attention – makes notes even. If the person has any etiquette and business acumen they will ask about you in turn. Be enthusiastic in your reply, precise and don’t try to sell your business to them. It’s a massive turn-off. If there’s a business synergy and connection arrange a future 1-2-1, do some research, and arrive prepared to sell your wares unobtrusively.

If we meet in the future, then please know that I rarely get it right first time. I’m human, I’m nosey and I’m passionate about my business. Remember and don’t judge me too harshly.

If you want a chance to find out sooner rather than later then I’m always up for a 1-2-1 with coffee (or prosecco).

Gill Arnott
Director, GEM Business Support
T. 0161 413 9390