New Directions

By Jim Ward

New Directions
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First Impressions

You never get a second chance to make a first impression” (Hannah Whitall Smith)

I can’t recall the first time I heard the above expression, but what a powerful message! First impressions are important. As we navigate the trials and tribulations of a long career, you want to avoid those situations where you constantly “second guess” the impression you made. In less than one minute, people will often form an impression of you. Sad but true. So, what are those things you should be working on to insure you make a lasting impression. First, begin with how you present yourself. Posture, attire, eye contact and a firm handshake are a start. You want to look and act professional. In addition, listening and thinking before you speak are critical to a positive first impression. I’m a firm believer that we learn more by listening than we do talking.

Generally, when it comes to first impressions, we find ourselves in two distinct situations. Situations which are planned and scheduled, you have time to prepare. Having time to think think about the questions you want to ask in advance is critical. In situations which are impromptu and sudden, you don’t have time to prepare and often need to think quickly.  Having your “elevator speech” ready at all times is your key to success here. Every professional should be able to introduce themselves in a clear and concise manner.This elevator speech, or professional introduction, is your way to familiarize the listener with who you are. Rehearse and practice it. Have it ready so you are not caught flatfooted.

Until next time…


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