My friend Summer wrote to me…
Why are introductions and first impressions so important? What is the art of the introduction? What is too little/too much? Too intimate/too general? What are the values and atmosphere we want to convey to someone at the very beginning? And could a good intro help us to personally clarify our own values and increase our own confidence?
I started wondering as well… Are first impressions really that profoundly powerful? Could introductions even be a key component of our survival?!
I believe introductions offer the potential for social alchemy to arise. And magic to happen, and lives to change, and powers to unite!
Summer and I decided we would love to know what others think about this topic. What are your thoughts?… Please, share your comments below.
This also got me thinking about ways to make a good first impression. And the necessity of embracing the realistic time frame of introductions.
If you’re planning to step in front of someone who is important to your life mission whether that be on a date, your About page, a blog post, or via email correspondence, I want you to do so with clarity and confidence. So, here are five ways to rock the art of introduction and make a good first impression.
1. Decide how you want to make them feel. This is the most important thing. It is easy to forget what people say to us but we do not forget how they made us feel. If you want a “second date” with someone, focus on the positive emotions you can stir up in them from the beginning. Asking yourself how you want them to feel before you step in front of them will make it easier for you to engage with them in a way that is intention-based and powerful.
2. Show don’t tell. What I mean by this is give demonstrations when possible. Use stories or examples from your life to “show” them who you are and how you do what you do. Stories are much more captivating and clarifying than a job title or list of services. You can also provide proof of who you are by talking about your “why.” Why do you do what you do? Why is (blank) important to you? If (your) someone can relate to your “why” they will genuinely appreciate you and what you have to offer.
Try these templates below to get you in a showing vs telling mindset:
I help [who]_________ achieve/experience [what]_________ by doing [ say what you do]________________.
The reason I love doing __________________________ is because I [believe in/am passionate about] ___________________________.
3. Less is more. Many psychology experiments have shown that our short-term memory can hold only a limited number of separate items. The average is about 7. People will remember more if you give them less to remember. For example providing a short list of your most exciting, inspiring, or helpful information is very effective. Don’t try to tell them everything on the first date. Instead, give them the opportunity to digest your bountiful creativity in several small portions. If you can offer brevity, do it. It’s a smart, kind, way to interact with your fellow someone(s).
4. Help them. This could be as simple as making them smile, relax a little more, or feel heard. If you are hoping your introduction will lead to a work relationship of some kind, offer some advice or ideas in your area of expertise. Aim to help solve a problem they are dealing with. Remember how you want to make them feel. Try to figure out what is stressing or bumming them out and provide relief. This helps us too. Practicing how we can serve others leads to self-awareness about our unique gifts while simultaneously increasing our confidence.
5. Engage with them patiently. You can do this by simply asking them a question. Or offering them an opportunity to do something (non-committal) with you. Or giving a welcome gift, something simple and helpful for them to remember you by. In the beginning phases of introduction we are feeling each other out. Think about when you first meet someone. What do you need before you “commit” to a relationship? Time for trust to build up? Proof you can have fun with the person? Evidence of shared values? These are things to think about when you are inviting them to engage with you. Whatever your invitation is try not to rush in too quickly. And if you can, make the offer as easy/fun for them as possible.
TWO CASE STUDIES. WHAT NOT TO DO AND WHAT TO DO.
We used to have a dog named Pongo. He was a bully breed. Part pit bull, part bulldog. He was a black and white spotted goofball. Pongo was a very friendly and lovable creature. However, he was not great at first impressions. Whenever he saw someone he wanted to “meet” he would rush up excitedly to show them how fast he could be nice. From the other side of this equation, an equally nice person or dog is watching this enormous beast rush towards them… What do you think their reaction was? Yea… it was usually terror. Poor Pongo… if only he had learned the art of introduction.
On the other hand, the gentleman in the video below has pretty much nailed all the ways to rock the art of introduction. Watch and see if his brazen yet gentle approach works.
The goal of an introduction should be to get (your) someone to take the next step with you. That step may simply be the willingness to keep watching you. Do not underestimate this privilege. Just because someone doesn’t schedule an appointment with you, buy your product, or reply to your email right away does not mean they won’t ever. First impressions are not the conclusion of an introduction. In fact, introductions are often a phase of first impressions.
So, If you really think the relationship can be life-giving for both you and the other person then you should keep showing up. Think about how you can make them feel good. Show them who you are. Do not overwhelm them. Help them when you can. And invite them to play with you.
Happy greetings and meetings!
Ps. If you are working on an introduction of any kind and you would appreciate some feedback, I’d be happy to take a look. Send me your draft at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to join Summer and I in continuing this discussion please share your thoughts or questions on introductions and first impressions in the comment section below.
If you found this article to be helpful please share it with anyone you know who is interested in the art of introduction.