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Leadership: Directors of First Impressions

A couple of months ago, I was a visitor at the New York headquarters of a big international law firm. When I walked into the firm’s beautiful offices, I was greeted by an impressive woman of years. I handed her my pass, which had my name on it and she smiled and welcomed me by name. She then offered to take my coat and showed me to a comfortable chair in the reception area. She asked if I wanted to visit the rest room. I did and when I returned, she welcomed me back.

A couple of months ago, I was a visitor at the New York headquarters of a big international law firm. When I walked into the firm’s beautiful offices, I was greeted by an impressive woman of years. I handed her my pass, which had my name on it and she smiled and welcomed me by name. She then offered to take my coat and showed me to a comfortable chair in the reception area. She asked if I wanted to visit the rest room. I did and when I returned, she welcomed me back.

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I took my seat and picked up something to read. The receptionist came out from behind the large reception desk and walked over to me. Speaking softly, she told me my appointment was running about 15 minutes late and would I like something to drink while I waited? Did I have enough reading material? I felt very relaxed and content sitting and waiting for my appointment. My impression of the law firm? A classy place with, I was sure, classy people. On the way out, I told the receptionist that I thought she was the best I had ever seen.

A few weeks later, I had an appointment at an international financial services giant also in New York. Upon my arrival, the receptionist smiled warmly and asked me if I wanted to hang up my coat. She also asked if I would like to visit the rest room. She directed me to both and when I returned, she let me know she had alerted the client I was there to visit and that the client’s assistant would be out to escort me shortly. We made some pleasant small talk and I took out my Wall Street Journal and started reading. As I waited, I observed something remarkable: This woman greeted by name every person who came through the doors or who walked by her desk. Her exchanges were uniformly warm, kind and cheerful.

How are you today, Janet? Oh, Steve, I wanted to thank you again for Friday. Samantha, how did it go last weekend…I know you had some concerns?

Greeting after greeting, she seemed to gain more energy with each one. The truly great thing, however, was that everyone she conversed with seemed to have their day brightened, as well.

We often take these positions for granted and regard them as unimportant, easy and easily replaceable. They are, however, extraordinarily important for many reasons, not least of which is delivering that all-important first impression. They require a unique skill set. I can imagine because these two women immediately set the tone and lift moods, any business that transpires afterward has a better chance of success.

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It’s a reminder that everyone is in sales – everyone.

What is your experience with “Directors of First Impressions?”

Ruth Sherman • Ruth Sherman Associates LLC • High Stakes Communications • Greenwich, CT • www.ruthsherman.com

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About the author

Ruth Sherman, M.A., is a strategic communications consultant focusing on preparing business leaders, politicians, celebrities, and small business entrepreneurs to leverage critical public communications including keynote speeches, webcasts, investor presentations, road shows, awards presentations, political campaigns and media contact. Her clients hail from the A-list of international business including General Electric, JP Morgan (NY, London, Frankfurt), Timex Group, Deloitte and Dubai World

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