First Impressions … only happen once

What grabs someone’s attention? There are many ways to look at this question. Are we talking about dating? Would it be looks, demeanor, the clothes they wear, hair style, aroma, job, or a hundred other outward qualities? In this swipe left or right world, one has but a few seconds to plant that first impression that might lead somewhere … or go nowhere.

We could be talking about home or apartment shopping. Is it the schools, the architecture, the amenities, the quietness, closet space, how close (or far) from the in laws, or just simply location, location, location?

How about choosing a church? I used to believe is was the three Ps (parking, preschool, preaching) that attracted or turned off guests. And while these are important, very important, there is a lot more these days. Many guests decide within minutes if they will return. Were they greeted enthusiastically, do they see clear directions to important areas like preschool and bathrooms, is it clean, are people friendly, and so much more. A lot could be said on this, and I will not repeat it now – but what kind of first impression is your church giving?

We could be talking employment. I am in this arena as I type, and it is very interesting.

  • Is it a creative cover letter, eye catching resume, job history, age (yes, I’ve been eliminated immediately because of a certain birth year – it’s illegal, yes, but it happens), where you went to school, or your “brand”?
  • I’ve been told to have a more serious/professional cookie cutter resume – as well as to be more creative on my resume, stand out, be colorful, and unique. Maybe I should add a scent to it like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.
  • Use a personal picture that is coat and tie/business professional – use a picture that shows me as I enjoy life.
  • I’ve been told no humor, more humor.
  • I’ve been told I’ve moved around too much as well as too long at some jobs – put dates and don’t put dates.
  • Mention my wife – don’t mention my wife.

It’s like a dating game. I’ve got one chance to make an impression and I never really know who is on the receiving end of my initial connection.

So what do we do? What can make the best first impression?

A LinkedIn search will give ample advice – be brief, tailor the resume for the job for which you are applying, proofread and proofread again, have a creative cover letter that is a brief trailer creating interest for the main show – your resume, make sure your documents are readable (no tiny or crazy fonts), and so on. In interviews, be punctual, dress for success, solid people skills, watch your body language, come prepared.

Let me share just a few nuggets of wisdom that I believe creates that first good impression. Most of this is in the first real contact (in person, on the phone, video conference), but some can also applied to the cover letter and resume. These can also be applied in almost any scenario where two people interact.

Several Be’s …

Be yourself. That’s who your selling. Yes, show your professionalism and maturity, but don’t be someone your not.

Be enthusiastic. If you’re not excited about the potential, why should they be excited.

Be aware of your EQ and keep improving on this (emotional intelligence = self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.)

Be courteous. Simple respect goes along way. This connects to punctuality as well.

Be interested in the other person in the room. Let them know people are important to you. You may be the center of conversation, but you are not center of the universe. (Sorry Calvin)

Be sure your social media is current, clean, and clearly shows you. I had a CPO (chief people officer) share with me that many companies look at social media more than at a resume for first impression. Yes, companies and churches do cyber stalking. So, is your FB, IG, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube channel, Pinterest, blog, Reddit, or whatever showing the best you? It’s said many now will decide on a church by the church’s website – without ever visiting the church.

Be prayerful. This may be the last on my list, but needs to be first, and constant, in what you do. I don’t talk to a church directly without being prayed up. I always start phone calls and vid conferences with prayer. And I pray for them as well as for the potential connection.

I hope this short list encourages you for your first impression possibilities.

One last question, what grabs someone’s attention in a blog? Why, title it Muddy Shoes of course.







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