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November 3, 2021

First impressions are important, whether you like it or not. It doesn’t matter what job you have — a first impression happens in less than a second, and it’s the biggest influencer in how people respond to you.

I started my career in real estate at a young age, and my journey was so successful that I reached millionaire status by the time I was 26. The key to winning a client’s trust (and business) is to know that your first interaction with them is everything. If you come in strong with confidence and style, you set the tone for the whole deal.

The client will like what you give and they’ll want to get more of it. 

In a recent study, researchers observed 1,000 people during three-minute speed-dating sessions. The results showed that people formed their opinions in a fraction of a second. It didn’t matter what evidence was presented to undermine their opinions. In the end, appearance trumped facts.

Essentially, if you want to grow your business and make a lot of money, master these 10 rules for making a positive first impression:

1. No narcissism, ever

Runaway ego kills interaction. If a person says, “I just bought a ranch in Montana,” and you reply with, “I have an island in the Caribbean,” you’re not having a conversation, you’re just talking s---.

Start a pissing match with your clients and you’ll lose business opportunities and money. When you open your mouth, gear your words toward what the other person says, not whatever is running through your head.


2. Listen

Listen like your life depends on it, because your business does. It also shows you respect them (people can tell when they’re being ignored).

You might also run into the type of person who asks questions just so they can cut you off and talk about themselves. Don’t be tempted to talk back. Keep your mouth closed and your ears open. Try to really get to know the person and think of negotiation tactics.

3. Kill the jargon

Industry jargon turns people off, and at best it makes them feel insecure about what they do and do not know. Speak with simplicity, transparency and clarity.

Fancy words used unnecessarily make you sound like a fool. Be real. Be confident. Be consistent. Be relatable. Be human. Or lose money.

4. Catch their draft

Psychological studies have found that people are attracted to people who are similar to them. If you’re talking to someone who speaks softly, calm your voice and back up. Don’t overwhelm them. The goal is to make them feel comfortable talking to you.

 It’s all about balance. Riding the draft is the beginning of “mirroring,” and it’s a tried-and-true sales strategy.

5. Dress the part

Dress in a style that screams “success” because that’s what you want to convey to others. At all times, have clean and polished outfits in the trunk of your car. You never know when you’ll need them. Preparation is key.

My clients move at a level that most of us could never imagine. They make up the world’s 1%. If a billionaire meets me in board shorts and worn-out sneakers, I’ll still come polished in a perfectly pressed suit.

6. Act the part

This coincides with “dressing the part.” Some call this “fake it ’til you make it,” but it’s not the same thing at all.

There was a time in my life when I wanted to lose weight, so I’d put on workout clothes, eat healthier, got my a-- to the gym and surrounded myself with people who also enjoyed exercising. It’s about retraining the mind.

7. Compliment a bit

Listen to the other person’s needs and reinforce their opinions.

As a real estate agent, I often compliment potential clients or listings. I look for the elements of the property I like and tell the owner. “That facade has incredible detail.” “Wow, is that wooden mantle hand-carved?” “I love the stone work.”

Such compliments are not creepy; they’re pointed toward your shared objective, which is to make money! To close the deal!

8. Make eye contact

This is standard advice for human interaction. It’s Body Language 101: Look ’em in the eyes. If your eyes dart about as you talk, you’ll give the impression that you have something to hide.

If you’re naturally a fidgety person and eye contact makes you uncomfortable, get over it. Figure it out. Practice is all it takes.

A second of eye contact is all you need. Meet the other person’s eyes before fixing your gaze on whatever it is that they’re talking about. Every few moments, make eye contact again.

If you’re naturally a fidgety person and eye contact makes you uncomfortable, get over it. Figure it out. Practice is all it takes.

9. Rock through it

Energy attracts energy, so keep a positive attitude.

There was this incredible wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers named Hines Ward. No matter what happened in the play — dropped passes, rough tackles, passes overthrown — the man smiled. Everyone liked him. Everyone rooted for him.

Meanwhile, all the other athletes were moping up and down the field and kicking over Gatorade coolers. And then there was Hines Ward, looking like the Cheshire Cat.

10. Know your role

Don’t speak out of turn. Don’t shame. Don’t run your mouth. People can be weird, but let them be and look for deeper points of connection.

If I’m being shown a listing by a potential seller, I’m looking at the house, sure, but I’m also starting a relationship. No one likes to be sold or hustled. They like to be understood and respected.