The 12 x 12 x 12 rule Brian Hilliardcommunication, professionalism, networking
Perception is reality.
How many times have you heard that before? If you're like me,
enough to know that the manner in which you're perceived really
does affect the level of communication you have with other people.
As a matter of fact, a survey conducted by Communication Briefings
found that 82 percent of the respondents felt the manner in which a
person answers the phone greatly impacts the perception they had of
that company. Eighty-two percent! And the same holds true in a
networking situation, especially when you're meeting someone for
the first time. Their initial perception of you is going to form
the basis of their "first impression." So, what can an active,
networking mortgage professional do to manage the perception that
others may have? Easy ... just remember the "12 x 12 x 12" rule.
This rule asks the following three questions:
•How do you look from 12 feet away?
•How do you look from 12 inches away?
•What are the first 12 words out of your mouth?
How do you look from 12 feet away?
One of the first questions people ask themselves, long before they
consciously begin to form an opinion, is so basic it often
surprises people when I tell them: Do you look the part? In other
words, as you approach the person you're about to meet, theyre
looking at your shoes, your shirt, your jacket, and are
subconsciously asking themselves if you "look like" you belong. If
you ever find yourself attending a networking event where youre not
sure what to wear, I'd recommend dressing up half a notch more than
what you think everyone else is going to be wearing. That might
mean putting on a jacket (and possibly a tie) for men, and a
business suit for women. Either way, this will give you that extra
little edge when meeting someone for the first time, because you
never know who you'll run into while networking.
How do you look from 12 inches away?
After passing the test from 12 feet away, you're now being viewed
from the first 12 inches, where people are sizing up your body
language. Do you look excited? Do you look bored? Are you happy to
be there? These questions, and many more, are racing through that
person's head before you've said one word. I read a survey that
said our body language accounts for more than 80 percent of
communication during one-on-one discussions, so it stands to reason
that during the first 12 inches, people are "hearing" what you say
loud and clear. So, if we know people are "listening" to our body
language, let's make sure we're communicating the right message.
The first thing to do is initiate eye contact. This is a signal to
the other person that you're about to engage them in conversation,
and puts that person at ease. Another thing to remember when
"communicating" with someone in the first 12 inches is to smile.
Research has shown that when meeting someone for the first time,
smiling is one of the single most powerful communication tools you
have, so be sure to use it.
What are the first 12 words out of your
You've gotten past the first 12 feet and the first 12 inches, and
now you've shaken hands and introduced yourself. What do you say
next? When I'm networking, the first question people usually ask me
is, "What do you do?" and keeping my first 12 words in mind, I
usually reply with something like this, "I'm a motivational speaker
who shows people how to network like a pro."
I've found this gives a little twist to that age-old networking
question and creates an interest in me right away. Now you'll
notice that my answer was actually a little longer than 12 words,
but that's not really the point. The thing to remember is after
looking the part with a nice jacket (first 12 feet), and initiating
eye contact with a warm smile (first 12 inches), by the time I get
to the first 12 words (or 13 in this case), I've already created a
positive first impression of myself in the mind of that other
Here's a recommendation: Take the next 10 minutes and think
about what your first 12 words will be when you meet someone new.
Hint: It's not, "My name is Jim Smith and I'm a mortgage broker."
The bottom line
As a mortgage professional, you're facilitating the transaction of
the largest personal asset most people have: their home. And just
as you wouldn't use the services of a doctor you perceived to be
unkempt, disorganized and generally "undoctorly," the same is true
for people looking to do business with you. How they perceive
youespecially during your first interactionwill, to a large part,
determine if you're going to get their business. And with the 12 x
12 x 12 rule firmly in place, you'll come across as a sharp,
engaging, personable mortgage professional from the moment they lay
eyes on you.
Brian Hilliard is a motivational speaker and author of the
book, "Networking Like a Pro!" He may be reached at (404) 434-2826,
or visit www.agitoconsulting.com.