In order to nurture my new relationship and to build a bicoastal business, I have to be in New York. Being in New York so much lately, I’m making many new first impressions. So, in every essence, this new chapter of my life brings me back to the basics of first impressions. First impressions are also the concerns of many clients. No matter how successful they are [or that I am], first impressions matter a hell of a lot. We all want to maximize every first impression.
But, how do you maximize every first impression? Digging deep back to my Boy Scouts days of yore, the simple answer is to “Be Prepared.”
Here’s what I’m doing:
It is true that, in a fraction of a second, people register a positive or negative impression in our brains. Looks matter. So, I’ve planned out a very specific look for the networking event I’m attending today. I’m wearing it now, actually. I look fashionable, like maybe I’m even in fashion. That’s the vibe I want to give off. It’s purposeful and intentional. I’ll be at a networking event of the startup crowd in Manhattan.
I expect that the men in the crowd to dress more laid back than me. But, I’m not entirely sure. Tonight is the first time I get to survey the people. I’m not wearing a suit or a sport coat. I want to look more approachable and informal at this event. Also, I’m not there to present anything formal. I’m simply going there to present myself for some solid networking.
I chose a navy blue v-neck fitted sweater and cool designer blue-green plaid trousers in wool flannel. The green is the color of my eyes. Even though that color is far away from my eyes, it’s my personal reminder to remain true to myself tonight. I like the self-help that my clothing offers. In addition, I’m wearing a color coordinated scarf that conveys a sense of ease and softness synonymous with my personality. I finish off the outfit with a pair of above the ankle suede boots that continue that soft feeling.
The purpose driven intention of this outfit is just what I’d do to maximize every first impression. You may not fully know your audience before going. But, you can certainly think through what you expect and plan accordingly.
Sure, I’m nervous about putting myself out there again. I’m the guy who curses networking before going, and verbalizes it even more right afterward. The sense of others’ judgement is a very painful feeling. It could even be karma kicking me in the butt. I’m sure to do it to others, even if I don’t intend to. So, I’m releasing myself from feeing any rejection, and staying focused to offer none either.
An unhealthy mindset makes my facial expressions and body language look closed, protective, and unfriendly. If I show up looking that way, people will end up with a negative impression. I’m not there to experience such a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thanks, but no thanks!
Not even a great outfit can overcome our own bad mind games. By focusing on making a better effort in the area of my mindset, tonight will go much better. I can’t help it if someone thinks I remind them of someone from their past. All I can do is be me, and show up as the best possible version. In order to do that, I need to show up relaxed and ready to co-create healthy and fun new connections. As I do this more and more, repeatedly, I will maximize every first impression.
Spirit is another extension of mindsets. I’m pretty comfortable with my typical spirit around networking. The best networking experiences I’ve had have always been about seeing it as a social experience. No one is a means to an end. Connecting less at the surface and more from deeper within has always yielded much better long-term outcomes.
Take my New York experience over the years before now. I’ve met some pretty amazing people like Vincent Nasserbakht, my go-to custom shirt guy. And there’s also my dear friend, Mary Jaeger. I’ve introduced her to nearly every single female client who proudly wear Mary’s scarves and apparel. Plus, I’ve made great connections with store personnel, and it’s all at the friend level. We all talk and support one another with our desires and goals. They are my local cheering squad.
I may be the new, and part-time New Yorker in town. But, I’ve got a lot to offer in the way of support and contacts. I’m happy to show up tonight in the service of others tonight. I’ll let that spirit help me to maximize every first impression I make tonight.
Finally, after every first impression comes a second impression, and a third impression. Having patience after the first impression leads to subsequent impressions. That way, I can get to better know the people I meet. Hopefully, because I’ve done my homework before going tonight, I’ve already made it easier for others to like me. Why wouldn’t they? I’m just the best version of me in the moment.