First impressions: Do they really matter?

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climate change first impressions
How important are first impressions? This image montage is from the UN Paris Climate Change conference in 2015
climate change first impressions
How important are first impressions? This image montage is from the UN Paris Climate Change conference in 2015.

Matt Handal in helpeverybodyeveryday.com has posted some observations worthy of consideration in our business development/marketing strategies.

He advocates that while first impressions receive much attention, they probably really don’t matter much where it counts.

He asks us to paint a picture of doing everything wrong and creating a perfectly terrible first impression. Then:

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.

Ah, yes.

Sure, there are short-term implications with first impressions (and I would argue that some first impressions assessments are extremely important, especially when you need to catch someone’s fleeting attention or, say in an RFP response, you fail to observe the check-boxes to fulfill the essential requirements to pass the initial screening.

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.

Let’s remember, as Handal suggests, that the results we achieve relate to what we actually accomplish, and how we deliver on expectations and promises. In many cases, indeed, you discover that the best first impression arises from referrals and your reputation, which the new person gathers quite quickly, even though it took a long time for you to earn.

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