Making an Impression in 7 Seconds

urlThis past Thursday, I volunteered at the 2013 PRSA Spotlight Awards. I didn’t know what to expect, who would be there or what my role would be; I did, however, know that some of the most prestigious and well-connected PR practitioners would be in attendance. Needless to say, I was exhausted thinking about the networking that would ensue.

Why is the thought of networking exhausting? It is, after all, just talking to people. The sheer act of networking doesn’t exhaust me – I could talk to people for hours. It’s the fact that people decide whether they like you or not in less than seven seconds. Seven seconds is basically enough time to introduce yourself and shake hands. That’s not enough time for someone to know you, but unfortunately it can make or break how you’re perceived.

Let’s go back to last Thursday. After myself and my fellow volunteer, Cheyenne, had finished setting up, we’d been at the venue for hours and I was exceptionally tired. As guests arrived, I had no choice but to put my game face on (a permanent smile, more or less).

Then, a miracle happened. Within moments of greeting people, my outward persona aligned with my internal energy.

By the end of the event I was exhausted, but more importantly, I realized that making a good impression isn’t actually a complicated feat to accomplish. It really just takes two components working in tandem:


This comes into play when you first introduce yourself. Speak at a healthy pace and a normal pitch (think opposite of a “valley girl”), and smile. If you’ve nailed this, you are well on your way to leaving a positive, lasting impression.


But unfortunately, confidence isn’t enough. Appearance isn’t everything either, but it is important when you first meet someone. I’m not saying you need to have expensive clothes and a fresh manicure, but do look put together and yes, clean.

I still get worn out imagining myself in a room full of professionals and possibly potential employers. But as I’ve found, when you are confident and presentable, the energy hidden under nerves and exhaustion finds its way out.

–Hannah Olson 

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10 Responses to Making an Impression in 7 Seconds

  1. Adaira Floyd says:

    Hannah congrats and your networking experience! Sounds like was a success 🙂
    > Speak at a healthy pace and a normal pitch (think opposite of a “valley girl”), and smile.
    ^ I haven’t quite nailed this yet. When I talk to someone that makes me nervous, I talk super fast!

    It’s really good you’ve mentioned the 7 seconds, that will help us all to remember that we need to make a good impression quickly.

  2. Emily Kirk says:

    Great post, Hannah. Networking can be nerve wracking when you’re trying to not come across like all you want out of that person is a job – like Linda mentioned to us in class last week. But it sounds like you did a great job balancing that. It’s all about confidence, too! I feel if you’re confident on the inside it will show on the outside, too!

  3. cmfbianco says:

    Thanks for the tips, Hannah! Networking always seems intimidating until you get there and start chatting with people. I’m glad it went well for you! I agree that confidence and appearance are the key things to successfully network; your expression and body language can engage people or turn them away, so it is important to put on a welcoming and enthusiastic face.

  4. pdxsx says:

    Well done, lady. Glad it was an awesome event. I heard you both did really, really well and impressed a lot of important people. 🙂


  5. Hannah Olson says:

    Thanks, everyone!

  6. Hannah Olson says:

    Reblogged this on Hannah Olson.

  7. hmartin3 says:

    Good point on the appearance/hygiene. People want to believe that appearance doesn’t matter, but it really does. When you first meet someone with no background information on who they are, of course you are naturally going to judge them on their appearance first. One of my journalism professors always encouraged us that we could never be over-dressed. It will greatly affect the way people view and respond to you, not to mention it could help us young people gain a little extra respect.

  8. Good point Hannah, there’s something to be said for being well-dressed in any situation. Even if you don’t feel like you are on top of things, something as simple as being very presentable makes up for it (at least a little) and boosts your self-confidence. There is, understandably, a lot of stress involved in big events like that, sounds like you did really well though! Those sort of things have always been difficult for me. And good point Haley, I usually forget that there is no such thing as being over-dressed!

  9. Great post! It really summed up the experience we were able to be a part of! Each of these tips are essential in networking opportunities. I agree that first impressions are of the most importance and following these guidelines are a perfect way to assure a great first impression!

  10. Jasmine N. Rockow says:

    I like to think of it as playing a role. It’s not me people are seeing, but rather a crafted image or persona that I have created for them. It is the art of acting. When I think of it in this way, I feel inspired by the creative potential, and that energy — which you have so correctly identified — is indeed infectious. I look forward to networking with all of you at tomorrows event with Linda 🙂

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