We have all heard the old saw: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” There is also this amendment: “Don’t make your first impression your last.”
I only wish everyone would be so kind as to repeat these sayings to themselves in all the things they do with regard to their job search and networking.
For example, you are certainly welcome to come to meetings of our networking group in business casual. But, keep in mind that some of those attending will be coming from interviews and will be “dressed to the 9’s.” And, you need to consider what you are going to be asking for at those meetings. Typically it is nothing short of a referral to someone’s valued business associates.
I was never a big fan of business casual, at least not in business situations. Not being high on the imagination scale, I believe it is difficult to visualize how important you might be if you don’t APPEAR to be.
The same thing is true of ALL the correspondence you send out. What is your email address, and does it say your name at the top as it should? The “Bud Family” at the top, or perhaps your spouse’s name will leave the impression, and perhaps rightly so, that you aren’t very technologically proficient. (And, I guess you aren’t, but you might want to try to fool everyone.)
A Human Resource person I know told me once that she reads cover letters first. The reason is that folks get a lot of help with their resume, but often write their cover letters themselves. If you can’t put a coherent sentence together, you just might not be the person who she would hire for that senior level financial officer position at her firm.
Telephone calls are another opportunity to ruin my visualization of you. I am amazed how many folks haven’t set up their voice mail or are using their standard “we’re not home right now,” or you have reached 203-227-8965. I generally know what number I dialed. What I don’t know is if I reached the right person.
A proper message and/or a cheery greeting make a first impression for you. Good, bad or ugly, you are off and running. It is your call whether you are going to have to do a repair job, or be able to coast based on those first few seconds.
Those who make a lot of phone calls or who do a lot of writing learn to make judgments quickly. Face to face meetings are no different.
If you believe you are as smart as I think you are then make a believer out of me in those first few seconds of our meeting, whether that is in person, in writing, or over the phone.
You just might not get a chance to change my mind.