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How to Make Better First Impressions in 60 Seconds

How to Make Better First Impressions in 60 Seconds

Did you know people today are suffering from INFObesity? They don’t want more information; they want to be intrigued and they want to be intrigued quickly. If you don’t say something in that single, crucial minute of your elevator pitch that gets their eyebrows up, they’ve already checked out, and that means your idea, organization, or cause will never succeed at the level it deserves.

Do you have clear, concise, and compelling responses that impress potential clients, employers, and sponsors? Does your opening pitch or paragraph capture people’s favorable attention and motivate them to keep reading and say, “Tell me more?”

Our goal is to turn one-way communication into two-way communication. Another way to do that is to create commonality by turning me, me, me into we, we, we.

A bright, talented 20-something was the one who role-modeled this for me. I was on a speaking tour with my sons and we had the night free. We went downstairs to the hotel lobby and asked the concierge what he suggested. He took one look at my teen-aged sons and said, “You’ve got to go to D & B’s.”

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We were from Maui at the time and had no idea what he was talking about.

I asked him what D&B’s was, and this smart young man didn’t even try to explain: he knew intuitively that would only have confused the issue. He could have said, “Well, it’s kind of like a sports bar. But it’s more than that; it also has an indoor amusement park with video games and stuff. And the restaurant has pool tables but they also have…” but the longer he’d have talked, the more confused we would have become.

Instead, he asked a qualifying question: “Have you ever been to Chuck E. Cheese?” My sons nodded enthusiastically. He smiled and said, “D & B’s is like a Chuck E. Cheese for adults.” Bingo.

We then knew exactly what it was and we wanted to go there, all because this bright young man had a) asked a question that got relevant information and b) linked his response to what we just said. They should have put him on commission.

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Monologue vs. Dialogue

That encounter yielded the following epiphany: the purpose of an elevator pitch is NOT to tell people what you do—that’s a monologue. The purpose of an elevator pitch is to create a meaningful conversation—that’s a dialogue. The next time someone asks you what you do, use this disruptive approach to turn a boring elevator pitch into bonding connection.

How Can I Bond With Someone in the First 60 Seconds of Meeting Them?

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    “There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who walk into a room and say ‘Here I am’ and those who walk into a room and say, ‘There you are.’” – Ann Landers

    Here’s my favorite example that shows the power of turning an elevator speech into an elevator connection: I was asked to speak at the 2008 INC.500/5000 conference, along with fellow authors and speakers Jim Collins of Good to Great , Seth Godin of Linchpin and Tribes, Michael Gerber of E-Myth, Tom Peters of In Search of Excellence, and Tim Ferris of 4 Hour Work Week. My workshop was on how to POP! Your Communication—in particular, how to POP! the first 60 seconds of any communication to win people’s attention, respect, trust, and business.

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    My session was one of the top-ranked sessions because we focused on how to introduce yourself in a way that turned strangers into friends and clients. I asked Colleen, Entrepreneur of the Year for her state, what it was she did.

    After a couple of minutes of references to centralized medical diagnostic services—scanning devices, etc.—no one in the room had any idea what she did. This was not a trivial issue: she was surrounded by several hundred of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country, yet none of them understood what she did. That meant they wouldn’t be walking up to her afterwards to continue the conversation. They didn’t relate to her or remember her, which meant they wouldn’t be referring people to her or exploring possible strategic partnerships. Think of the millions of dollars in lost opportunities. That’s what happens (or what doesn’t happen) every time we introduce ourselves and people don’t get or want what we do.

    Making the Connection

    If we don’t connect in the first couple minutes, we’re probably not going to connect at all. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a better way to introduce yourself starting today.

    I asked Colleen what she did that we we can see (pointing to my eyes), smell (pointing to my nose), taste (pointing to my mouth) and touch, (pointing to my hands). She asked why that was important. I told her that those questions switch focus from the means—trying to explain how electricity works—to the end results: how people use and/or benefit from what happens in the real world.

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    Colleen thought about it for a moment and said, “I run medical facilities that offer MRIs and CT scans.”

    That reply was better because now we could see what she was talking about. Medical equipment, MRIs, and CT scans exist in the real world—they’re not just conceptual neck-up rhetoric. But we’re not going to stop there, because if someone just told people that, they’d just say “Oh.” An “Oh’ is better than a “huh?” because it means people now understand what job is being done, but there’s still no personal relationship. It’s still a one-way monologue instead of a two-way dialogue. Turn that into a question—using The Power of Three— that engages them and prompts them to give you relevant information that’s pertinent to your line of work.

    She asked what the Power of Three Was.

    I explained; “If you ask a question using only one point of reference, such as ‘Have you ever had an MRI?’ and that person says, ‘No’, the discussion is over. Instead, ask: ‘Have you, a friend or a family member ever had an MRI or a CT scan?’ Giving three points of reference increases the odds that people will come back with a personal experience such as, ‘Yeah, my daughter hurt her knee playing soccer and had an MRI.’ Now, relate what you do to what that person just said. ‘Well, I run the medical facilities that offer MRIs like the one your daughter had when she hurt her knee.”

    That elevator intro will raise people’s eyebrows: they’ll be intrigued because they’re picturing a way they’ve used or benefitted from what you do. This has taken under 60 seconds, yet they could describe what you do to other people, turning them into a word-of-mouth ambassador. And, if they’re ever in the market for an MRI or CT scan, they’re a lot more likely to contact you, because people like to do business with those they know and like.

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    Last Updated on March 14, 2019

    7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

    7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

    Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

    For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

    Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

    1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

    A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

    It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

    It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

    How it helps you:

    If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

    Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

    2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

    Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

    Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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    How it helps you:

    Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

    Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

    If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

    Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

    3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

    Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

    Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

    How it helps you:

    This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

    For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

    Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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    A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

    4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

    To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

    A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

    How it helps you:

    One word: hierarchy.

    All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

    In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

    If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

    5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

    Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

    Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

    How it helps you:

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    Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

    If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

    This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

    6. What do you like about working here?

    This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

    Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

    How it helps you:

    You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

    Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

    Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

    7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

    What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

    As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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    How it helps you:

    What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

    First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

    Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

    Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

    Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

    Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

    Making Your Interview Work for You

    Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

    Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

    More Resources About Job Interviews

    Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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