Hmmm, this is interesting. This meeting with the executive team was supposed to start at 9AM and here it is 9:05AM and no one is here yet. Oh wait, I hear someone coming. Let me get near the door so I can introduce myself as everyone comes in. Ah, here's the first person...
My hand goes out. "Hello. I'm Liz Weber." The gentleman is a bit surprised but says, "Hey. How ya doin'?" shakes my hand, and starts to walk to a seat at the conference table. A bit surprised, I say, "I'm sorry but I didn't catch your name."
He stops and looks at me a bit miffed but says, "Dave." I immediately think "Well this is getting difficult," but I nudge him along by saying, "I'm sorry Dave, but I know there are two Daves on the executive team, which Dave are you? Dave Philips or Dave Camdon?" He looks a bit irritated, but then simply says,
"Camdon" and sits down (with his back to me.)
Surprised by his behavior, I turn as I hear additional people enter the room. I again extend my hand towards the nearer of the two men, he shakes my hand and without prompting introduces himself to me (first and last names), but the second man actually tries to "dodge" me to grab a seat at the table. However, I tactfully intercept him and introduce myself to him. He, like Dave, did the "Hey. How ya doin'?" greeting. So, as I had with Dave, I prompted him to introduce himself to me.
This same general scenario repeated itself four more times as the remaining six members of the executive team entered the room. I'm happy to say, the CEO was professional when he entered and introduced himself to me. However, until that happened, I was starting to get paranoid: Was I at the right place? Are they this unprofessional in how they run this organization? Why were the introductions so difficult? I experienced all of these thoughts simply because individuals hadn’t introduced themselves professionally.
Now the really odd thing is, is that I experienced this same general scenario two more times in the same week with other business professionals. It'd be easy to explain this away and say, "Well you know, kids these days don't know the basics of professional etiquette." However, these weren't kids to whom I was introducing myself. These were seasoned business men and women in their 40s, 50s, or 60s.
Ok, so what's my point in sharing this with you? First impressions matter. How many times have you dismissed someone you just met because your first impression wasn't positive? How many times have you gotten the feeling that it would be difficult to work with them just by the way that initial interaction played out? The general rule of thumb is that individuals make their initial impression of you within the first 30 to 90 seconds of meeting you. They then spend the next 3 to 5 minutes either affirming or disaffirming their initial impression. So, if members of your management team are out and about introducing themselves and representing your company, what initial impressions are they conveying to prospective clients just through a poor introduction? How much business are you losing because your employees don't greet others professionally? That can all change with a “Hello”, handshake, “I’m (insert your name here).”