Ok, so we all know that first impressions count. What we aren’t all lucky enough to find out is the full extent of the impression we create.
I have always felt that I leave a good first impression; I dress well, I smile, I’m polite, I’m friendly without being over friendly and I listen carefully without making the speaker worry that I’m trying to control them with my mind. With the position I work in, for the company that I work for, first impressions are very important.
So, while our director was away, I had a meeting with a potential new client. Having worked in a similar industry, I instantly tuned into their wavelength and felt that I had a great understanding of their business. At the end of the meeting, we shook hands (I still haven’t got round to the Donald Trump over-sterile method of bowing), said our goodbyes and I skipped back to my desk to put together a proposal.
Now I don’t want to boast, but this proposal was a beauty! I tapped away at that keyboard like I was playing a piano in a symphony orchestra … or something. I pressed the send button and sat back to await their response (actually that’s a lie. I then started attacking the pile of work on my desk but that’s not relevant to this story).
Yesterday, the client came round to the Hot PJ office to discuss their thoughts on the proposal. For the first few minutes, they waxed lyrical about how much they enjoyed reading the proposal and how relevant it was to their situation. Then, just before my head grew too big for the room, they told me that when they left the first meeting, they had turned to each other and said, “Well, that was a waste of time!”Slightly horrified, and with my boss raising her eyebrows, I nervously asked, “What do you mean?”
The client then went on to explain that they were dedicated note takers. During our first meeting, they were acutely aware of the lack of notes I had jotted down and so believed that I wasn’t really taking in what they were saying. On the contrary, I felt so tuned-in to what they were saying that I only needed the aid of a few buzz words to jog my memory in order to create a proposal.
What shocked me was how we had left that first meeting in such a contrast of thoughts. Me thinking everything went great and them thinking they’d wasted their time. In the worst-case scenario, they may not have bothered to open the proposal and we would never have had the second meeting.
This really made me think. In this case, the client was open enough to let me know their initial thoughts, but how many meetings had I been in where people had a genuine belief that my lack of note taking was indicative of my lack of paying attention.
Are any of us fully aware of the first impression we give? And I’m talking about the whole package here; from the way you dress to the notes you take! The happy ending is that they are now our latest client and this is the start of a wonderful relationship we will have together.
Definitely food for thought though.