We all know that first impressions are important and that we never get a second chance at making one. I think about that adage each time I drive past the store of a local business owner.
It all started several months ago when I joined a business networking group and began to contact other members. My goal was to ask for a brief meeting to introduce myself, to learn about the other business’s product or service, and to explore how we can help each other grow our businesses.
One of the first businesses I contacted had a new owner who said he was also new to the networking group. I set a time to meet him at his store. Two weeks later, I showed up at the appointed time. The guy wasn’t there.
The woman at the store said the owner had left to run an errand. She didn’t know where he had gone, when he would be back, or that he was scheduled to meet me that afternoon. After a few minutes of chatter, I left my business card and went on my way. Sure I was disappointed because my time was wasted, but I’ve screwed up appointments too, so I was willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. What happened? I never heard from him.
Here’s where first impressions are important. Missing an appointment is minor; it happens to all of us at some point. Not following up to apologize and perhaps reschedule is major. My first impression of this business owner is that he’s sloppy and uncaring about details.
Based on my first impression, I know that I will never buy this guy’s product or service. I also know I won’t ever recommend his business to anyone who could use his product or service because I’m not going to burn my contacts by recommending someone who doesn’t care about how he treats potential customers.
I think about what sort of first impression I want to make on the people I meet. They may never need the service my company offers, but they all know someone who does and I sure don’t want to blow all those future potential relationships by making a lousy first impression.
Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy.
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