What’s YOUR first impression?


perfect10In her new book, “Presence”, Harvard Business School professor (and creator of “power posing”) Amy Cuddy shares that in first impression situations, people instantly answer two questions about each other:

  1. Can I trust this person?
  2. Can I respect this person?

Cuddy says that trust equates to warmth and respect to competence. Ideally, we want to be perceived as having both, but we can lose out if we think competence is the most important factor on which to be evaluated. The goal-to be seen first as warm and approachable. Others will respond more favorably when they sense first that you’re trustworthy. It’s only when trust has been established that competence will be evaluated.

The takeaway? Trying too hard at the beginning to convey you’re smart, accomplished, and competent can send a vibe that you’re unapproachable and maybe even manipulative. Brush up on your social skills, ask questions, be a little transparent, and show interest in others. Cuddy says, “A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.”

© Jill Bremer 2016

7 Tips for Instant Messaging

Is your workplace set up for instant messaging? When used appropriately, IM’ing is great for quick and efficient back-and-forths. But, as with email, these types of messages can be treacherous because of the absence of vocal inflection and body language. Here are seven etiquette tips to keep in mind as you IM at work:

1. Check the receiver’s status before you send. Have they posted a “busy” or “away” status?  Be respectful of that and either wait or send an email instead.

2. Consider, too, if they even like IMs. That may not be their preferred form of communication and favor phone or email instead.

3. As with all communication, it is polite to ask upfront if they have time for a quick question or chat. They may be swamped and didn’t have time to post a “busy” status.

4. IMs are meant to be short. Send them when you need to get info to someone in real time or need a quick response to something they won’t need to research. Never use IMs to send negative or sensitive news.

5. Don’t send crucial last-minute changes via IM. They may have already left for the meeting and won’t get your update in time.

6. Watch the texting-style abbreviations. Use only ones that are universally known (by several generations, not just yours).

7. One of you needs to end with a “thank you” at the end, so that both parties know the conversation is finished.

® 2014 Jill Bremer

Follow Up – Networking’s Forgotten Step

In the words of Vidal Sassoon, “The only place where success comes before work is a dictionary.”  Following up with people after a meeting or event may seem like a lot of work, but it can be the very step that will have the most impact and make all that networking you do pay off.  So what can you do to turn that rapport you built into relationships?

Face-to-face contact is the best type of follow-up, although it’s not always possible.  Follow-up via email gives the impression of “work-as-usual” and can easily get overlooked, deleted, or archived never to be read.  Phone calls, notes, and letters make more of an impact because they take some time, thought, and effort to accomplish. If you don’t have personalized stationery, have some made. People will recognize your personal touch when they receive your note or letter. For more info, read http://jillbremer.com/articles/etiquette/thank-you-notes/


Follow-up can also include sending materials pertinent to the discussion you had with your new contact. Send the restaurant guide to Paris for their upcoming vacation in France or alert them to a web site or blog you discovered that will help them with their latest project. If you ever see contacts’ names in print, clip and send that, too (their mom will always need an extra copy :)). Invite them to a meeting you’re attending or speaking at. Ask if they’d be willing to review some written material you’re currently working on such as your brochure or an article.

But again, you can’t beat face-to-face follow up. So drop by their office to lend that book you recommended, give them a ride to the next meeting (great conversations can happen as you drive together), or take them out for coffee or lunch!

Don’t be merely a collector of business cards – USE that email, phone number, and address they handed you and turn those few minutes of “How do you do” into real business!

Cocktail Party Etiquette

cocktail-party-etiquetteCocktail parties, client receptions, and networking hours can be wonderful career-developing opportunities for you. You get to know others – and they get to know you – all while in a relaxed environment.  But don’t make the mistake of “letting your hair down” simply because you have a drink in your hand!  These functions are still business in nature and best used for making new connections, finding resources, nurturing existing relationships, and staying on the inside track, NOT partying till the cows come home!

Keep these guidelines in mind:


  • Your company is expecting you to work the room in order to connect with clients, prospects, board members, competitors, vendors  – to build bridges, deepen relationships, gather intel, and find new business.  Even when it’s a purely internal event, this is your chance to put faces on that org chart and get the skinny on clients, projects, openings, etc.
  • If you enter the room and don’t immediately see someone you know, try to make eye contact with a friendly face or move toward an already-formed group of people who look like they’re having fun.
  • Don’t clump! It’s okay to hang out with your friends for one drink or a few appetizers, but then it’s time to disperse and find new people to talk with.
  • The best places to stand are either by a food table or in the center of the room.  Food tables attract foot traffic so they’re great places to find people to engage in conversation. Food also provides good conversation starters (“Have you tried that?” “Do you think the green sauce goes with that?”).  And everyone moves through the center of the room during an event making it another good place to connect, disengage, and connect with someone else.

Respect Boundaries

  • Use a filter when you talk. Don’t let company secrets slip out in your conversation or share something off-color or controversial. You don’t want to be next week’s “hot topic”!
  • If you’re not on a first-name basis with someone between 9 & 5, you’re not after 5:00 either.
  • Don’t monopolize any one individual. 10-15 minutes per person is a good amount of time for small talk.

Don’t Overindulge

  • Limit your alcohol intake to 1 or 2 drinks. If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t feel pressured to do so. Choose a soft drink or water instead.
  • Don’t pile food onto your appetizer plate. Better to make a few trips back to the food table to replenish, than to advertise you’re starving and the frig is empty at home.

One Final Tip: Go with the attitude that you’re the host of the party, even when you’re the guest. Keep an eye out for people who need help with their coats, finding their name badge, or locating a colleague. Doing what you can to make the party a success will shine a nice spotlight on you.

© 2016 Jill Bremer

Introduce Yourself!

TSBB_Lawyers-440x275Success is all about who you know, right? It’s also about who knows you!  So it’s vital that you take initiative, stick out your hand, and introduce yourself to others. Here are four settings you should always take advantage of:

When you recognize someone, but you’re not sure if he or she recognizes you
Never assume casual acquaintances will remember you.  Reintroduce yourself and remind them of when you met before.  “Hi John, I’m Sophie Johnson, we met at the regional meeting in December.” They will probably jump in before you even finish, with “Of course I remember you, Sophie!”  It’s better for that to happen, then to watch them as they search their mental rolodex in a frantic effort to recall your name!

When you’re seated next to someone you don’t know
Be the initiator, whether it’s a luncheon, conference, or training class: “Hi Bob, I’m Janet Baker from Acme Labs.  How are you today?”

When the introducer doesn’t remember your name
Don’t watch them sweat – jump in and save them! You’ll be in their shoes one day.

When you can’t remember their name
It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. It’s always best to admit it right away in the conversation. I had a friend once who never let on that he had no idea who he was talking with, but kept chatting away as though he did. Then a colleague walked up to him and said, “Hey John, introduce me to your friend.” Busted!

My advice: “Hi, I’m Paul Collins. We had a really interesting chat about basketball at last year’s meeting. Please remind of your name. I’m afraid it’s slipped my mind.” 

And what’s the best way to remember names? Word association games have never worked for me. “Okay, she likes the beach, beach has sand, her name is Sandy!” You can spend so much time creating the links that you tune out on the actual conversation. Instead, use their names 3-4 times as you continue to converse. “That’s a great story, Becky….So, Becky, who did you work with at Acme….Have any exciting travel plans for the summer, Becky?’

One last tip: Don’t try to memorize both first and last names. Aim for memorizing only the first. That’s all you’ll really need in conversation. If you need their last names, look again at their name badge or the business card they gave you.

© Jill Bremer 2016


Prepping for Small Talk

The concept of “small talk” makes many people nervous. Their biggest fear about going to an event is often that they won’t have anything to talk about.  I’ve always felt one of the best things you can do at a networking function, cocktail party, or reception is to LISTEN. You can learn so much about the other person and their work, but also discover their passions, values, and motivators when you are sincerely curious about them.

BUT, when the conversation rolls around to you – or when there’s that awkward lull – can you jump in with something that will keep it chugging along? You can, when you’ve done some preparation and come with your Give/Get List firmly in mind. I first learned of this trick from the book, “Make Your Contacts Count” by Anne Baber & Lynne Waymon, which is loaded with lots of good networking tips.

Here’s what they suggest. Before any event, make a list of 5 things you have to Give and 5 things you’d like to Get. Let’s focus on Giving first. Giving to others is a quick way to build a network because, what will they want to do in return? Give back to you two-fold!  As Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” So, take a few minutes right now to think of what you have to offer: resources, opportunities, expertise, introductions?

One person I coached realized he could:

  • recommend a great new design blog
  • offer expertise on housebreaking puppies
  • alert others to a new job opening
  • share tips on filling out grant applications
  • recommend a new “meetup” group

He could have gone on and on, because there is really no limit to the topics you could talk about. The problem is there are too many!

Now to the Get list. Think about the problems you want to solve, the things you want to learn, the opportunities you’re seeking. My same client decided he’d like to find:

  • A graphic designer
  • New sushi restaurants
  • A presentation skills coach
  • Management book recommendations
  • Discount office furniture

If you prepare a Give/Get list before a function, you’ll find that you actually look forward to small talk. Networking will transcend being a chore, a bore, or scary. It will become an fun process of search and discovery!