Networking Information

Unforgettable First Impressions Part 4: Become a Social Gift Giver


Do you ever wonder why single people give flowers, wine, candy or mix CD's on first dates?

Bingo! Because they want to get lucky!

Just kidding. They bring gifts because they want make a great first impression. And that's the sixth and last element of this system: giving gifts. But I'm not talking about gifts you eat, drink, listen to or have to water. I'm talking about social gifts. I purposely placed this element last in the system because it helps you put into practice many of the ideas we've already covered.

In all of my reading and research on first impressions, the best description of "social gifts" was written in a book called First Impressions by Dr. Ann Demaris and Dr. Valerie White. I'd like to look at their theory of the four types of social gifts, but take it a step further with some specific examples you can use tomorrow to make flawless first impressions.

Social Gift #1: Show Appreciation and Respect
Every person has some handle by which he can be lifted. As such, the two most effective ways to grab hold are with compliments and thank you's. Since we've already covered the former, let's talk about thank you's. Whenever you want to show your gratitude for something or someone, always tell people what you're thanking them for. Remember, it's the part of the blanket that hangs over the bed that keeps us warm. You will be amazed at how effective a specific thank you is:

"Thanks for your honesty; it means a lot to me."

"Thanks for the interesting conversation, Randy. I really learned a lot."

"Thanks for bringing me that bottle of water. I thought I was going to choke on that piece of broccoli."

Social Gift #2: Discover How You're Alike
Anyone who grew up in the city of St. Louis will tell you St. Louisans are obsessed with one question when they meet someone for the first time:

"Where did you go to high school?"

I don't know why we're obsessed with this question. But the answer always discovers the CPI (Common Point of Interest) - whether it's a person you both know, an old football game or just a memorable teen moment. It's amazing how easy it is to give a social gift to someone simply by asking this question (And if you're reading this book and you grew up in St. Louis, my answer to "The Question" is Parkway North).

But that's a St. Louis thing. Still, the list of open ended questions you can use to find out how you and your conversation partner are alike is endless!

Social Gift #3: Satisfy Curiosity
On a daily basis, anywhere from four to six people ask me, "Scott, I just have to ask - why are you wearing a nametag?"

You may be wondering if, after more than four years, this question ever gets old.

Not at all.

I've always enjoyed answering this question not only because it allows me to talk about my passion, my business and the validation for my existence, but also because it empowers me to give a social gift as a result of being approachable. After all, seeing a nametag worn by a person who's NOT in a meeting or at work is awfully strange. And people just have to ask. People just have to satisfy their curiosity!

But there are many other ways to give social gifts for the sake of someone else's curiosity. My favorite is through trivia. You know those useless trivia facts found on daily calendars, candy wrappers and emails? They're not so useless after all.

In the summer of 2004 I read a sidebar in USA Today that said the following:

"Every year on the Fourth of July, Americans consume 150 million hotdogs. If you lined up that amount of hotdogs from end to end, they would stretch from the moon AND BACK seven times."

When I read this I was amazed. Maybe I was nauseous - I don't recall. Either way, I learned a piece of trivia that was both relevant AND interesting. So for the next few weeks before, during, and after the Fourth of July, I made it a point to use it at the beginning of every conversation I had.

And as it turned out; people were more interested in wieners than I thought.

We started discussions about holidays, hotdogs, fireworks, baseball games - you name it! And it was all because of a simple piece of trivia.

Another great benefit of trivia is it will positively affect someone's demeanor. Offer some trivia to someone and watch as she raises her eyebrows, nods her head, smiles, alters her body language and leans forward. Trivia expedites the entire communication process! And it's all because your not-so-useless social gift will make people comfortable and more willing to communicate. Satisfying curiosity will almost always produce this result.

Social Gift #4: Uplift Them
Do you know someone who is contagious? (Not the flu.) Perhaps their smile, laughter, positive nature or love just spreads to everyone in their presence? Think about Henry the Bellman, Cherise the Waitress and Jeffrey the Salesman from Chapter 3 - all contagious people.

GOOD NEWS: You can be contagious too!

Here's how: use fun, laughter, jokes and interesting stories in your daily repertoire of giving social gifts.

"But Scott, I can't remember any of them. I hear a joke or a story and then never think about it again."

No worries. The best way to organize this content is with a "Laughter Log." I've been using mine for several years as a way to organize my content for books, speeches, articles and learning tools. But it's also perfect for conversations. Simply get a blank notebook or journal and take a few minutes at the end of each day to write down a few notes.

Ask yourself this question; then scribble down a few notes about the incident. Do this every day and after a week or certainly after a month or year - you'll have some great material to incorporate into your "first impression lexicon."

Laughter Logs reminds me of the first time I met my friend Billy. I was a junior in college at Miami University. He and I were walking down the same path but not speaking, so I decided to break the silence.

"Hey man, you wanna hear a great joke?" I asked.

After I told him one of my favorite zingers, Billy introduced himself to me, and immediately we felt like we'd known each other for years! We walked further and realized we even knew some of the same students on campus. After we said goodbye and decided to meet up later in the week, Billy said, "Hey thanks again for the joke - I really needed a good laugh."

Remember, even if you don't have a lot of time, these four types of social gifts will help you become UNFORGETTABLE!

© 2005 All Rights Reserved.

Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, "The World's Foremost Expert on Nametags" and the author of HELLO my name is Scott and The Power of Approachability. He helps people MAXIMIZE their approachability and become UNFORGETTABLE communicators - one conversation at a time. For more information contact Front Porch Productions at http://www.hellomynameisscott.com.


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