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4 Ways to Turn First Impressions Into Lasting Connections
Anyone you’ve ever met has decided whether they want to build a relationship with you within the first few moments of meeting you. There have been countless studies showing the time it takes to form a first impression can be as little as zero to thirty seconds.
Some people call it judging or making an assumption, and whether you agree that it’s right or not, we can all agree that these first impressions happen every moment of every day.
Think back to the time you met your now best friend. Or the very first date with your spouse. For the most part, all of the significant relationships and opportunities in our lives have come as a result of positive first impressions.
Making a good first impression is important in general, but it is especially critical for your career. Take the interview process, for example. Hiring managers are expected to make a judgment call on how well you will do in a particular job on the basis of a 30 – 45 minute conversation. Although I agree that it’s not the best way to make such a big decision, the fact remains that this is currently the main process we have to work with.
At best, the pressure to make an appropriate first impression to a hiring manager, a future client, or a new team member can be nerve racking. Here are 4 tips to ensure you effectively use your first thirty seconds to make the right impression when you meet someone and lay the groundwork to build a lasting connection.

4 Ways to Turn First Impressions Into Lasting Connections

1. Look the part

The first 3-5 seconds of meeting someone new is critical to setting the stage for the rest of the conversation.   Each person has a number of thoughts racing through their mind during this time.
Do I like this person? Does she seem open? Do I want to get to know him better?
It is extremely important to give off a friendly demeanor. One simple way to do this is to smile. This small gesture goes a long way. No one wants to get to know someone who looks unapproachable or standoffish. Along with a friendly demeanor, pay attention to your energy. Positive vibes win every time.

2. Be engaging

Now that initial judgments have been made, the next 10 seconds serve to either reinforce the first impression or completely destroy it. Become an expert in sparking and maintaining conversation. The art of small talk is just that – an art. Take the time to hone your skills so that you are better able to converse with any person for any length of time.
The key is to be authentic. If you are genuinely trying to learn more about this new connection you have met, it will come through as you ask sincere questions and really listen and internalize the responses.

3. Always have an agenda

With the remaining 15-17 seconds, you should be trying to determine how you could build a mutually beneficial connection with this new person.
This does not mean being an opportunist. Having an agenda just means you should be looking out for ways this person can be of service to your professional goals in the future and vice versa.   The fact is we are always connecting with people, but seldom do we stop to think about our connections in a deliberate and strategic way.

4. Follow through

This is probably the most underutilized part of the first impression. Often times we assume that once the initial meeting is over, our work is done. This could not be further from the truth.
Exchange contact info with the people you would like to cultivate a relationship with and ACTUALLY USE IT. You could make introductions between old friends and new connections, circulate relevant articles to people in different industries, or simply check in from time to time just to say hello. The art of building relationships begins at the first meeting, but it shouldn’t end there.
Following these tips will make you a relationship-building machine in no time! Creating positive first impressions and lasting connections is the foundation for building a diverse and strategic network.

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