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Make That Impression Last
Watch your mouth. Although venting about your boss may feel therapeutic, be careful who you unload your frustrations upon. You never know where your words might travel—particularly when they're exchanged via email.
Watch your face. Keep a tight hold on your facial expressions. Any unintentional (or purposeful) twitch or eye roll could rub someone the wrong way, causing trouble for you down the line. Fit your reaction to each situation.
Watch your life. If you ever find yourself alone with a power broker at the end of a grueling day, don’t let your guard down when asked about your personal life. You can still be judged on whatever you reveal, so stay professional.
Job interviews require more than just showing up. The right skills matter a great deal, as does the right fit—and the right first impression. Bringing your A-game is especially crucial when the person you're trying to impress has little other information with which to form an opinion. Maintaining focus and displaying impeccable social graces is key, but you want to showcase your individual strengths as well—to indicate to a potential employer what only you bring to the table.
Millennials are poised to make great first impressions, because older colleagues can recognize ambition and good manners without the tension that stems from direct competition. While traditional office interviews present one such scenario, you can meet power brokers in any number of places—at restaurants, in meetings, or at parties. Use these tips to shine in an interview, land a job, and be at your best wherever you go.
Be likeable. You are a human being, so relate to other professionals on a human level. Don’t just try to hit the right buzzwords—come prepared! If possible, conduct research on your interviewer or potential contact to uncover commonalities in background, hobbies, education, or experience. When you follow up, you'll have a built-in talking point ("We met at the trade association meeting the other day—thanks again for the skiing advice!").
Be curious. A secret to getting powerful people on board is to remember that it’s all about them. At the moment, you are the one who stands to gain from the interaction. Ask questions that show your genuine interest in the person and his or her company—even in job interviews, where you may think the focus ought to be on you. You will get plenty of opportunities to share what you have to offer, but you must also show a willingness to learn.
Be classy. When you prepare for an interview or other professional encounter, your appearance should be carefully managed. Imitation is said to be the most sincere form of flattery, so mirroring the other person's uniform can be an effective strategy. That doesn't mean that you should be artificial, however—you must feel at ease with the image you are projecting. Aim for clean and classic with a bit of personal flair.
Be concise. Keep your responses focused and direct. Before you ramble too long on any particular topic, watch for signals that will indicate whether or not the person wants to know more. If there's one question that deserves an intricate answer, it's, “Why do you want to work here?” Seize the opportunity to offer a fresh perspective on the company, and allude to experiences and information that have helped shape your point of view.
Be consistent. Once you have the job, the camera is always rolling. Use these strategies to stay in your boss's good graces.
Adapted from Influencing Powerful People: Engage and Command the Attention of the Decision makers to Get What You Need to Succeed, by Dirk Schlimm, McGraw Hill