My Own Secrets To Leave a Lasting Impression Wherever You Go
The more you consistently make a positive and memorable impact on the people you meet, the better your chances will be to develop fruitful relationships. Here are my own secrets to leave a memorable and lasting impression wherever you go.
Whether you like it or not, you are constantly being judged by your words and actions.
In life we can easily get caught up focusing on how being a great leader that we forget what matters most to truly have a greater influence on people. That’s why you may want to leave others with a great impression of you by adopting some simple habits that instantly make you more likable.
It is estimated that it takes approximately 100 milliseconds to form an opinion of another person when meeting for the first time.
Within this incredibly small amount of time, the judgment made is long lasting and can be very difficult to change over time. This is why it is so important to make a good and lasting impression when meeting someone for the first time.
Every interaction a leader has with their followers leaves an impression.
This may be good or bad. Great leaders leave more positive impressions than negative impressions. Keep in mind that different followers will respond differently and you may not see the results right away, if at all. So, it’s wise to evaluate your followers and see how they respond to certain stimuli.
Your capacity to leave a lasting impression on people is directly related to how you make people feel consistently.
Rather than focusing on the task that needs to be accomplished, or sharing your thoughts and feelings, there are a few things you can do to help you connect with those you lead, and allow you to leave the type of impression that you truly desire to have on those around you.
So how can you make sure to leave a positive and lasting impression? Let’s find out!
It may sound simple, but leaving a memorable and lasting impression takes a strategic approach. Here are seven tips that’ll help you make your mark and be remembered over anyone else in the room.
Secret #1: Crack a Smile
If you want other people to be happy to see you, you must be happy to see them. When you genuinely smile at someone you exude confidence and they feel appreciated. When you see a friendly person projecting a relaxed demeanor with a genuine smile, you are more likely to assume that this person is trustworthy and authentic. When continued interaction reinforces this initial impression, the judgment will be confirmed.
Perhaps the most important part of making a great impression on someone is to smile!
The simple act of smiling not only lifts your mood for the better, but it also signifies a positive attitude. A positive attitude can be the deciding factor in landing that amazing internship or getting your dream job, so get in front of a mirror and practice your best toothy grin!
Whoever you meet, you may smile and make eye contact.
People make judgments within the first seven seconds or so of meeting you, and that’s statistically around the point at which they start tuning out if you don’t engage them. Smiling at them and making sincere eye contact shows them that you’re warm and interested in speaking with them. These tiny gestures will set the stage for you to engage in a meaningful conversation.
Another reason behind the power of the smile may be that smiling physically makes you feel good.
When you smile your body releases endorphins. When you smile, another person’s natural reaction is to smile back. So in turn the person you smiled at also has endorphins released in their body. This all happens very unconsciously. But our unconscious mind memorizes this impression of a person — that they make us feel good. This in turn can be a precursor to breaking down skepticism and building trust — important not just in building personal relationships, but also in professional relationships and in ‘making the sale’.
When you’re uncomfortable with your smile, you become accustomed to hiding it, but this is to the detriment of everyone around you!
A bright smile can spread a small spark of joy to those around you with very little effort, and since smiling is contagious, this domino effect can brighten everyone’s day in the process. A genuine smile is one way to indicate trustworthiness and kindness. This helps put people at ease and starts things off on the right foot in almost any situation.
Whether you’re meeting a potential client or participating in a formal interview, you want to appear approachable and friendly to the other person.
A smile is a very simple way to start off on the right foot, and it’s likely to make you feel better and more comfortable as well. When you do smile, make sure it’s your genuine smile and it’s not only for show. A cheesy, fake grin will certainly be memorable, but not as a positive impression.
Secret #2: Call Them By Their Names
What was the name of the barista that made your coffee this morning? Next time you order, thank them as usual and follow up with their name, it will be noticed. Using their name really is Dale 101: The single sweetest sound in any language is a person’s name.
People value being remembered.
If at the end of your first conversation with a person, you repeat their name to them while complimenting the conversation and asking for a chance to speak to them again, they will feel valued and appreciated. When you remember someone’s name, it shows your respect for them as well as your interest in the things they had to say.
Using a person’s name in conversation creates a culture of respect, recognition and consideration for the discussion.
Your name is what people call you, right? It’s part of your identity, a label, a saying. Your name is your identity, how you’re recognized and what you respond to. Using someone’s name can be an effective way of breaking into conversation. It can also be effective when a person seems distracted or has disappeared off into their own head.
It isn’t wrong to say that using someone’s name is a form of flattery. To some degree, it is.
But to say that’s all it is underestimates its meaning and power. Think about the most charismatic people you know of — people who can do anything and you will still like and follow them at the end of the day. Charisma is not what you do or say, but how you do it. Often, when someone we think of as charismatic enters a room of strangers, the first thing they’ll do is ask everyone what their names are. Every time they say someone’s name, and they say it often in repetition.
People who are generally well-liked make a point to use people’s names in conversation.
Because our names are such an indispensable part of our identity, we love it when people use them. We feel validated when a person refers to us by name during a conversation. Making an effort to remember someone’s name not only shows them that you’re paying attention, it helps to create a rapport more quickly.
Remembering and using someone’s name after you meet them shows how that person has made an impression on you.
By remembering their name, and whatever interaction you had with them will feel more substantial and concrete. People appreciate if you use their name when you first greet them, such as saying, “It’s nice to see you again, Laurent.” If you are not sure if you remember their name, do not be afraid to ask! People would rather you ask than speak uncomfortably throughout the entire conversation skirting around what their name is, although it is always ideal to remember their name initially.
Secret #3: Find Common Ground
When meeting someone for the first time, I like to ask questions until we find a mutual topic or interest we have in common. Figuring out what you have in common makes for a pleasant and memorable first meeting, and gives you something to start the conversation the next time you meet.
One of the ways that we can make a good impression is by aligning ourselves with similar qualities of another person.
If we happen to be wearing the same dress or mention that we like the same music, that can create a positive impression because the person assumes we are more like them. Everyone has a hometown, a favorite vacation spot, a place on their bucket list they want to visit. Everyone has passions from music, to presidential history and summertime county fairs.
Tell them about your passions and ask them about theirs.
This can be as simple as saying “So what is it you’re passionate about?” after the typical “here’s what I do” back and forth. This tends to catch people off guard in a good way, and allows them to either wax poetic about the aspect of the work they love, or something outside their work to which you may have a connection. Either way, it helps build the relationship.
You may think that finding shared interests with people who you appear to have nothing in common with isn’t always possible.
But, more often than not, with a little effort, you can find something — even if it’s not meaningful or memorable. It’s OK if it’s more about just getting through the moment than creating a lifelong connection that you can count on. Learning to do that — with anyone, anywhere — is reason for applause.
Do yourself a favor and try to get beyond the surface talk.
There are plenty of other things you can discuss to establish some common ground — most of which as not as boring as comparing the weather in Florida to the weather in Wisconsin. To do this however, you need to be an active listener. Ask thought-provoking questions and actually listen to the other person’s response. Don’t be so quick to chime in with your own experience and opinions. Listen and let them share more about themselves.
Finding common ground with someone helps to make you more relatable.
It also subconsciously affiliates you with something the other person finds enjoyable, which leaves a positive impression on your interaction. Explain why you do what you do, and why you love it, it is sometimes more interesting than what you actually do. It allows the conversation to take many directions and helps you find common ground. They may not be interested in what you do, but if your “why” is compelling, you have a chance to actually get to know someone and network. And make it a two-way street: Don’t forget to ask them about their “why.”
Secret #4: Say Thank You
Show your appreciation by saying thanks when someone holds the door open for you, or goes out of their way to do something. When did you last thank your partner for being awesome or your team for doing a great job? Appreciation is one of the main drivers for someone staying committed in a relationship or role — don’t forget to tell them.
The best impressions are those that show that you value other people’s time, knowledge and skills.
You can tell them specifically what you valued about what they did, such as a, “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.” “Thank you” can never be said often enough, since it’s often forgotten. Giving the other person a compliment definitely leaves a lasting, positive impression. I bet you can remember someone who complimented you.
Compliments make others feel good, but they have to be genuine.
People can see right through phony. Listen for something you like about the other person and give them some praise for it. People like to be liked and who doesn’t love a genuine compliment? Make sure that your appearance and demeanor radiate health and energy. Be genuinely interested in the people you meet; ask them questions about themselves and try to find something on which to compliment them.
In business, whether it’s a potential client or current one, any interaction is crucial in maintaining a great impression.
While everyone seems to focus on first impressions (which are still important!), a great professional knows that the effort doesn’t end there. Writing a thank you note can continue to help the way someone positively perceives you. However, if you may have made a not-so-great first impression, don’t count yourself out! Thank you notes have the power to make a difference and sway the tides in your favor.
Saying “thank you” shows that you appreciate and respect what connects all things.
Whether it’s to your nightmare former boss or an ex whom you truly loved — ”thank you” shows that you recognize the value of a situation or a person in your life. It is a tremendous display of respect because it shows you appreciate that person’s presence. Thus, the expression of “thank you” in this context is ultimately a realization of the oneness of all things. You dignifying another person in this way is also a way to dignify yourself — to become conscious that we are all one in the same.
When you hold a leadership position, saying thank you is more than just acknowledging someone for doing their job.
It is also showing respect for them. If we think of work in a purely contractual manner, gratitude may seem a bit over the top. Yet, a few words of thanks often imply that the work has been done well, which is satisfying for the person who did it. Without recognition, people at all levels in a business can lose motivation and momentum. Keep in mind that you might have to say thanks many times to acknowledge a staff member’s value.
Secret #5: Your Body Speaks
Body language is important, as it sends out nonverbal cues: smile, look the person in the eye, incorporate touch when appropriate. Do you appear confident and approachable or nervous and awkward? Even if you don’t feel confident, fake it ’til you make it.
Actions speak louder than words, and it is often actions that catch someone’s attention when meeting others for the first time.
When making a good first impression, it’s best to reflect yourself as being an open and confident individual. Try to maintain steady eye contact and give a firm handshake when interacting with someone for the first time. Both of these actions can help display yourself as a self-assured individual.
Your body language reveals how you feel and think about yourself.
The way you enter the boardroom or the meeting, can make a good first impression, build credibility and trust if you feel good and confident. Your posture, your walk, speed of movements, hand gestures can show your confidence and high self-esteem. Good posture makes you look confident, shows good energy and health. If you walk confidently, you will be able to build instant credibility and the reaction to you will be noticeable different.
There’s no better way to catch anyone’s attention than being the life of the party.
We’re often drawn to those who are at the center of it all. If you’re uncomfortable when you first walk into a room, wave to the wall. That gesture immediately makes others think you’re important and have a higher social status. If you’re already a social butterfly, surround yourself with people, place yourself in the center and engage in lively conversation. You’re sure to be noticed and approached.
Physical contact promotes bonding; even a handshake has been shown to increase rapport and make you more likable and memorable.
In today’s society, a handshake is viewed as a gesture of friendliness, acceptance and respect — all things you want to convey when meeting someone for the first time. A handshake is generally the only form of physical contact you have with someone in a business or professional environment and creates a connection between you and the other person. A handshake is another form of non-verbal communication that shows someone you’re interested in getting to know them. When shaking someone’s hand, remember to keep it firm, but neither bone crushing or limp.
Like spoken language, body language is simply a means of communicating how you are feeling to someone else.
If you don’t know which body language has a negative impact, it can feel like you’re flailing in the dark. Some good body language probably already comes naturally to you (like making eye contact when you’re talking to someone). But others may take time to learn. As with any language, practice makes perfect. So, spend some time in front of your mirror, then go out and show them to the world!
Secret #6: Be Bright, Be Brief
Don’t be afraid to offer solutions and bring value to discussions. Whether you’re presenting at a meeting or having an impromptu chat with your boss, nail your point with simple language and simple solutions. Be bright, be brief, be gone — and you’ll always be remembered.
Have your elevator pitch ready to roll. Try to make it interesting and deliver it with passion.
Be proud and excited about what you do and make the message clear and sticky. If you stop talking before your listener gets bored (or overwhelmed, or distracted, or saturated), they will come to you for more. They’ll ask questions. They’ll start a discussion. They’ll request follow-up information. And the chances are good that you made a lasting impression.
A small number of words can be delivered in a shorter amount of time than a large number of words.
Efficient communication is prized and appreciated by all audiences. It shows the speaker respects their time. And it allows everyone to be more productive. And if your message can be expressed in fewer words, you have the freedom to speak slower in the same amount of time. Speaking slowly has numerous benefits, including the ability to put more emphasis and emotional expression on your words.
Less is definitely more. Keep your audience eager and guessing.
Those who want to know more will seek out the speaker. Sometimes it takes the form of asking for a copy of the talk, or an email or phone exchange. If one is a consultant, it often leads to work. For those who have little interest in the topic or speaker, being brief and gone allows them to move through their days without a bad taste in their mouths — about the speaker or introducer.
Effective communicators don’t beat around the bush. If you want something, ask for it. If you want someone to do something, say exactly what you want done.
Many people over-explain. To overcome this, think about all of the things you can talk about on a topic. Trim the less essential information, and keep only the essential components. People speak 150 words a minute, but people can process 750 words a minute. This means if your presentation isn’t on target, people’s minds have 600 leftover words floating around their brain, and typically they will start to think about other things.
It turns out, jargon isn’t so engaging. If your words are too complicated, or if your audience doesn’t understand the acronym you are using, you are probably going to lose them.
Keep your words simple and clear, explain with words that your listeners can relate to. But remember that there is a difference between using simple language (easy to understand), and simplistic (treating the problem as if it’s not complicated at all). Don’t think of it as “dumbing down”, just think of simple and light ways to explain your message and engage your audience.
Secret #7: Listen & Ask Questions
When was the last time you felt that someone was listening to you? Feeling heard is not common these days, yet it’s such a simple and effective way of leaving a lasting impression. People you meet will appreciate if you simply listen and ask questions. Don’t start off new conversations by talking about yourself, but give the other person the opportunity to do all the talking.
One of the most important ways to make a good impression is by listening and reflecting back what you have heard.
Don’t just stay quiet when someone is talking. Show your interest by engaging in the things they are saying, focusing on them and not yourself. Good ideas and solutions often arise when we ask open-ended questions. As you get better at listening and asking questions, you find that you are less compelled to promote a theory or belief. You interrupt less. You don’t try to shape the story to fit a desired outcome or narrative. You also become more sensitive to the nuances of a situation.
Part of being a good listener is asking meaningful questions — beyond just asking what they do for a living or about their family tree.
This in turn will make them feel like the experts of their own life, and guess what? People love walking away from a conversation feeling like they were able to teach you something or open your mind in a way that it hadn’t been opened before.
Most people launch right into their pitch or chitchat. You don’t want to come of as trying to hard to sell yourself.
You’ll make a more positive, memorable impression if you allow the other person to speak first or if you pose an open question and then listen attentively to the answer. The more the other person talks, the better a conversation partner you’re perceived to be.
Questions are the expressive, probing language for growing others; listening is the receptive, facilitating language for growing others.
These two complementary approaches form a continuous growth conversation loop. The deeper the questions, the deeper the listening; the deeper the listening, the deeper the next question. Leaders who are helping others to grow and innovate are always trying to craft the best questions to make a difference. As a result, the learning is never one-sided; it is a co-created process that engenders empathy, trust, and collaboration.
The more effectively one listens, the more knowledge they acquire.
The more people feel you listen to them, the more they’ll respect your position. The more people respect you as a person, the more influence you’ll have. Active listening can bridge two people or a room full of people together. Active listening demonstrates a genuine effort to understand and hear another person’s perspective. When you listen with empathy, people will feel safer, more comfortable, and be able to speak more freely and clearly. Plus, you’ll gain influence, respect, and understanding.
We’re aiming for good lasting impressions. And if your heart is in the right place. If you’re in a place of non-judgment with the goal of learning and building then you’re in the right place to leave a good lasting impression.
That said, the steps to create a lasting, positive impressions aren’t always easy.
They take dedication. They take sacrifice. They take knowing people. But if you’re looking to lead well and leave a great team behind, you must be willing to take the time and effort to leave a positive impression.
Oftentimes, if we feel like an interaction isn’t going well, we just sort of turn off and shut down.
But you shouldn’t give up — you can still improve the impression you’ve made! Even when things seem to be going downhill, try to finish strong; the person you’re with will remember the good end of your interaction more than the muddling middle.
It’s fascinating to feel so impacted by someone you met for only a short amount of time.
What is it about these people that leave us feeling so touched and inspired? If you want to be more like them, it’s time to start paying attention to the ways you can leave a significant, positive impression on others. It might not come as naturally to you as it does to other people, but with a few little tweaks, you can leave others feeling confident, calm, and content in your presence.
At the end of the day, your impression on people is based on one thing, and one thing alone…how you make them feel. It’s your call, your duty.
What will you do to leave a positive impression on people you meet? Do you have any more tips to add? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below with our fellow leaders!