Young professionals have been engrained with the idea that first impressions are everything. While your first time meeting someone is certainly important for relaying an initial impression of your character, that first handshake and introduction doesn’t have to be your only make it or break it moment. At your next busy work or networking event, don’t fret if that potential client grants you little more than a nod, or if you totally forget your own name when being introduced to the CEO. Instead, focus your efforts on your next encounter, the often-overlooked second impression.
Note that the following advice can also be applied to the dating world.
Stand out in a smaller crowd
Busy events are a difficult setting in which to leave a lasting impression. If you are concerned that you have made a poor or meaningless first impression, it is likely due to the fact that you were one of so many vying for the attention of that important person. If you know you are likely to meet that person again, leave your display of shining personality for a later date when you are in a situation more conducive to standing out (the elevator is a great spot for one-on-ones). Being overly eager to gain attention from someone in a large, busy setting can actually be counter-productive (and annoying), leaving an impression you may not be so proud of. So keep cool, be patient, and focus on mastering that great second encounter. Your intended audience may just notice and be thankful for your considerate restraint.
You’ve got an in
One of the best features of the second introduction is that you already have something casual and familiar to lead into conversation with. Regardless of how meaningless the first encounter may have seemed, when meeting for the second time, in reality you are simply greeting someone you already know (whether they remember you or not). Imagine that you are with a group of colleagues when you are once again introduced to the head of the company. Your coworkers will be all concerned with their handshake, eye contact, etc., while you can so cool and calmly bring up that last event where the two of you initially met. For an important moment, or hopefully more, you are able to connect with that person on a level apart from the others with easy conversation regarding the event. Your second impression can be built on a foundation of confidence, based on the fact that you technically already know one another and can share a common topic of conversation.
Time to prepare
With so much pressure placed on first impressions, it’s no wonder that so many YPs feel that they often screw them up. If nerves get the better of you during the first intro, causing you to flub your words or shake hands with sweaty palms, don’t think that you’ve lost your chance. The second impression offers a great second chance. For your second meeting you will have had time to prepare, to work on those things that gave you trouble the first time around, and to really strategize on how to showcase your best, true self.