An intention without a decision is just a wish!
An intention without a decision is just a wish!
When you meet a new potential client, colleague, business partner, friend, or love interest, they judge you with in seconds. It’s human nature. We all tend to do what we’ve been taught not to do: we judge a book by it’s cover. This new stranger will see you and make any number of judgments about you, determining within 5-8 seconds, including but not limited to, whether you are:
In many cases this will happen within the first five seconds of the encounter, and there is a lot of truth to how that old deodorant commercial used to say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Are there instances in which you can do ‘damage control’ for a poor first impression? Sure, but that’s a street you just don’t want to live on.
I’m not going to tell you that there’s some secret trick to keeping people from making snap decisions about you in seconds. There isn’t. You can, however, develop an understanding of how to make this tendency work for you rather than against you.
In most cases, our first impression of people are far more influenced by nonverbal signals than by anything we might say. Depending on whose research you want to believe, nonverbal signals have 3-4 times as much influence as whatever you’re saying.
That being said there are a few definite ways to use your nonverbal behavior to make a great first impression.
If you do these things consistently, you’ll have an easier time making a strong personal impact in those critical first few seconds, and have a much better chance of ‘deserving’ the opportunity to connect with the right people.
Nearly all of us want to have at least some charisma. Especially for those of us who are public speakers, who work in sales, strong charisma helps us to engage audiences, build rapport with prospective clients, and create opportunities for personal branding that can greatly enhance our revenue capture. In a word, people with strong charisma tend to have an easier time making money, establishing relationships, and getting what they want out of life in general. On the other hand, almost no one wants to be the guy nobody likes. Most people I run into think I’m very charismatic, yet I was the ‘nice guy’ everybody hated in school. So you won’t be surprised to know I believe charisma can be developed.
What is charisma, then? It comes from an ancient Greek word that meant ‘gift.’ In sacre writings of the Christian faith, it was used to describe spiritual gifts given by God. Today, it’s defined as:
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of a divinely given gift, that’s okay. Think of it then as personal impact. The truth is that to a great degree everyone has at least some charisma, and we can work to improve on our own particular type of charisma.
Now, most of us tend to think that charisma is an inherent trait, and popular culture tends to reinforce this belief with such expressions as ‘you either have it or you don’t,’ and the extreme charisma of celebrities and historical figures seems to enforce this as a fact. I beg to differ. however, and I’ll tell you why.
To some extent, some people are naturally more charismatic than others, yet charisma itself appears to involve conscious effort. There’s a story about Marilyn Monroe going shopping with a friend of hers, and not being recognized by anyone. Her friend was was puzzled by this, and Marilyn, it’s said, told her, “I’m not on stage.” Marilyn then ‘turned on’ her charisma, and before long, she was being mobbed by fans.
In my own small way, I’ve noticed a difference between how people react to me when I’m on stage, and when I’m just trying to leave the venue. When I spoke at an event at The Hard Rock Cafe here in Toronto recently, some people even noted that I was ‘different’ on stage. Indeed, my public speaking tends to attract far more business than all my other channels for attracting clients. To some extent this is because of the content of my speeches, but a good deal of it is because I’ve learned to ‘turn it on’ when I’m on stage.
All charismatic people, when using their charisma, apply what Andrew Leigh, author of Charisma: The Secrets of Making a Lasting Impression, refers to as the ABCs of charisma:
We’re going to examine charisma-enhancing behavior in the next post, but for now I’d like you to begin observing your aim or objective when you’re interacting with others, as well as your own behavior and the resulting personal chemistry. Don’t be in a hurry. Improving your charisma takes time. Once you’ve made some definite observations of your present use of charisma, you can do the following for an immediate shift in its impact:
Smile. A genuine smile conveys warmth and friendly intent.
Make eye contact. Lack of eye contact will make people think you have something to hide, or that you’re not confident.
Use open body language. To put it simply, this is when no part of the body covers the midway point of the bisected body. Crossed arms, for example, usually indicate resistance, hostility, or skepticism.
Relax. Most people don’t bite. Really.
Speak up. Charismatic people tend to speak clearly and calmly.
If you’re really struggling with your charisma, I’d recommend Andrew Leigh’s book for an in-depth approach. In my next post, I’ll go into detail on how to improve your use of charisma to hep unleash your vision on the world.
Keep the faith!
Don’t qualify them. Disqualify them. Another profound truth that we sometimes forget is that not everyone is qualified to do business with us. Some may even be qualified from a financial standpoint, but they may not necessarily be a good client in the the long run. Yes, it’s true that you won’t always land the perfect client, but part of making your initial contact numbers really count is eliminating bad prospects whenever possible, or at least reducing them to a lower priority so that you spend less of your time on your less qualified prospects.
Recognizing when a prospect is going to be troublesome, or a high-maintenance, low value client is vital to meeting your sales goals, and to the health of your business. This may seem counter-intuitive at first, because you’ll cut your sales numbers down by not doing business with troublesome, tiresome, or time-consuming clients. After all, you need the sale, right?
Wrong! A low value client can very easily end up taking up a lot of your time. For example, I once took on a client on a sliding scale with their promise that they’d send me several referrals. This client proved to need a lot more work than they initially let on, the project consumed a lot more time than originally anticipated, the client was not teachable at all, and in the end they just weren’t worth the trouble I’d gone to. Needless to say, those referrals never happened, either. So, I learned my lesson and decided not to deal with people unable or unwilling to pay my full price. Those who are willing to pay more for your services are much more likely to respect your time, effort, and expertise.
We’ve all had it happen. We call a customer service number, or we’re dealing with a vendor, and our question is met with a response that sounds like it came out of a can. For most of us, this doesn’t inspire much confidence, and a lot of times, it can even seem as though the individual isn’t giving us a straight answer. Why then, do so many of us use scripted responses in our own business? Continue reading