Don't be over self-confident with your first impressions of people.--- Chinese proverb
First impressions last. We know their power. Even if we're wrong, we're eager to filter reality to fit the pegs we've already selected.
Did you notice the scissors in the image? They're within the box the interviewer is drawing but out of sight.
Our snap judgments lack context. Some people are great at socializing or presenting. You want them on your team. You may later find they're full of fluff, don't meet deadlines and fuel the flames instead of extinguishing the fire. Maybe they drink too much. Maybe if they're overly profane. Maybe they leer at the serving staff.
We don't know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don't always appreciate their fragility.--- Malcolm Gladwell
In The New-Boy Network (free PDF), Malcolm Gladwell reminds us that first impressions are based on one context. Someone good in an interview may not be a team player on job. The article is worth reading online or in his newest book, What the Dog Saw.
You can't stop your prospects from making snap judgments about you. Can you influence them?
Deciding too quickly creates anxiety. Deep down, we know we might be fooling ourselves and that others may notice. Your prospects face this this anxiety too. Help them see you in different contexts. Hiring a video crew to follow you around isn't practical or desirable unless you're trying to get into reality TV.
Let prospects get a first impression without the hassle of meeting you. Display samples of your work. Show them testimonials. Describe your processes. Give proof of your philanthropy. Let them see you. Let them hear you. The only practical way is online. You don't need everything at once. You can add and modify in the future.
If the prospects agree to meet, you've already planted the seeds for a long relationship ... if you have an equally positive first impression of them.
Links (all Malcolm Gladwell-related)
- The New-Boy Network: what do job interviews really tell us? (The New Yorker, May 2000)
- Outliers: Master + Opportunity trump Talent
- Blink: A week in a handicapped hotel suite
- Expectations change experiences: what do you call yourself?
- image by Guy Billout taken from the PDF of The New-Boy Network