Two summers ago, I had the privilege of assisting at a networking training session for Notre Dame student-athletes. The fifty student-athletes in attendance and were asked to participate in a practice networking event with twelve members of the local community, of which I was one. The event lasted for an hour and the men (amazingly, no female student-athletes signed up for the event?) were very impressive. Strong handshakes, good questions, and solid eye contact – a very impressive first impression was made by the participants.
At the end of the session, the event organizers asked the community members to provide feedback to the group. While all the feedback given to the student-athletes was valuable, there was one piece of advice, offered by an executive from a local non-profit, that I thought stood out. The executive stated he placed more importance on a good second impression when dealing with people. He noted that everyone can have a bad day or be very impressive at the initial meeting – a first impression does not differentiate or make/break people in his experience. The true measure for this individual is the second impression.
The second impression must be a continuation of the same personal brand that you championed in your first interaction. The second impression should further demonstrate the attributes you championed in your initial interaction. However, many networkers will not make a solid second impression:
- Many people have initial conversations and then “drop the ball” and never re-connect with their contacts. The lack of any second impressions will doom the networking efforts of this group of people.
- Some people are very impressive at first and their contact will provide them advice/referrals to help them with a need. During the second interaction, if the networker has taken no action, has not furthered oneself and is asking the same questions that were asked in the initial meeting, a poor second impression will be made and the contact will choose to not offer further assistance.
- Other people will have an initial meeting and then schedule a second discussion to recap his or her efforts. This individual will make a positive second impression as he/she has reconnected with the networking contact and will have progressed from the initial meeting. This individual has further strengthened his or her brand with the contact.
Take this advice and know that if your first impression was not as stellar as you would have liked, the second impression will still allow you a chance to leave a truer image of ‘You” and your brand with your contacts.
Kevin Monahan is the Associate Director of the Notre Dame Career Center. In this role, he leads the center’s employer relations efforts in addition to coaching young professionals in career management and career change capacities. He combines career consulting services with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituencies. He is the author of the Career Seeker’s Guide blog.