Recently, I was invited to meet with an important CEO for a second time. In our first meeting, we hit it off like old friends and he remarked that my insight into his business was spot-on. It would be easy to assume that because our rapport was strong that our second meeting may lead to prosperous rewards—a consulting job for me and a highly connected friend in my network. However, instead of thinking, "This will be a piece of cake," I knew that I needed to spend some quality time preparing for our second meeting.
In my research, the second impression is just as important as the first. We put too much weight into the first impression and assume that's all that counts. We get lazy, thinking that the encore performance is a freebie that will obviously turn out well, "because we dig each other, right?" Don't kid yourself. You will never win someone over completely with one great meeting.
In relationships, business and social situations, I've found the second meeting to be the hardest of all. This is especially true when the first meeting went well. While psychologists are right that a first impression that is extreme, be it positive or negative, sets the tone for a relationship, it doesn't define its boundaries or potential. Subsequent encounters determine the real quality of any relationship. Yet, sadly, we don't train people for this. When the second meeting goes so-so, others cool off, making it hard to ever have a third one.
Here's what's really going on: During a first meeting, people decide if we are likable (familiar, nice, relatable). Once that hurdle is crossed, they look for a connection, the person's value and can feel empathy. Being relevant to someone's needs or interests takes the relationship to the next level.
Even in job interviews, the first encounter shapes up your social fit, and subsequent interviews determine your competency. If the first meeting goes wonderfully, expectations often increase, making the second meeting even harder. A fluffy second interview can frustrate a hiring manager under pressure to find a top producer. The same goes for your personal life from first dates to first encounters with the in-laws. If your second meeting is lacking, he is wondering, "What happened to her?" He was looking find some common ground to take things to the next level, and instead they got a repeat performance.
Over the past few years, I've come up with five simple tips that will help you have a great second meeting and take your new relationships to the next level. This advice is slanted to those that are following up on a great first impression. Keep reading for Sander's 5 ways to a great second impression