First impressions are vitally important. That’s basic training. But it is also important to remember that others can make a bad first impression for you – whether you know it or not.
Successful people work hard at making good first impressions. They know it’s the first few seconds when they meet someone that often makes the difference in closing a sale, developing a relationship or getting hired for a job.
It’s what they don’t know that often can bite them.
I remember once putting a call into a business executive who ran what appeared to be a successful venture. I was going to invite him to join us in a project that would highlight his success, position him and his company as a role model for others to follow. It wouldn’t cost him a dime, either.
Only one problem. He had an executive assistant, let’s call her Michelle, who must have had a sign on her office door that said: “Beware of Doberman.” She gave rudeness a whole new definition when I phoned, and made it clear I didn’t stand a chance of getting by this gatekeeper. After belittling my mission she summed it up by saying her boss had no time for trivial matters nor would she dare bother anyone else at her company with such mindless details. If I wanted to make a request of someone there, she said, I could put it in writing.
After disconnecting with Michelle, I went about finding another successful company to serve as our role model, which was accomplished with the next phone call.
But once I got done licking my wounds, I had to wonder whether the boss realized he had a Doberman outside his office door and if someday it might cost him big time.
In any competitive industry, first impressions and good tones are more important than ever. People don’t have time to do business with others who treat them without courtesy or respect. They’ll take their time money to places where they are treated well and get great customer service.
Turns out, the Doberman’s boss was in my voicemail a few days later. He had heard through a third party that I was trying to call him. He sounded kind and gracious and absolutely clueless. He suggested I try calling back. Michelle, he said, would be happy to take good care of me.