I had a call from a journalist this week asking me to comment on, “how to make a first impression”. I duly did that and the article will be published in a couple of weeks. The call prompted me to take a fresh look at first impressions. I posted a video on You Tube a while back (you can take a look at that here) however there are a few extra elements I’m covering in this week’s post.
An initial first impression is often made online these days. Ensure your social media profiles are portraying a professional image. Particularly LinkedIn as it is aimed at business professionals. Have a professional head & shoulders photo, wearing business clothes and keep profile information up to date.
Rapport building and “social selling” can happen well before any face-to-face meeting. Ensure you respond to any emails and phone calls in a timely manner. Keep communication open, friendly and helpful.Connection and communication is also about listening; giving others your undivided attention. In conversation it is important to ask questions but also really listen to the answer. Most people will think you’re a great conversationalist if you let them do most of the talking.
Prepare for any meetings with notes and thoughts gathered. Be a few minutes early and have everything you need either in a stylish compendium, computer etc. or folder. Neat and accessible and preferably have a classy pen.
At the meeting ensure you look the part of the professional your client or prospect is expecting. Think of the brand image you want to project. Is it smart, trustworthy, professional? Or perhaps creative, modern and leading edge? If you are a corporate employee, check the dress code of your organisation. Dress in a style that suits you and shows the best version of yourself. The most important point is to be well groomed. We know that people shouldn’t judge us by our outward appearance – but they do.
To make a favorable first impression your body language should be open, expansive and approachable. A firm handshake and confident, direct eye-contact will display confidence.Be aware of negative body language like crossed arms or turning away from the person you’re meeting, mumbling or other mannerisms that could be seen as lack of confidence or perhaps the reverse even arrogant.
The first thing people look at is your face, so your best accessory is a genuine, warm smile. It shows enthusiasm for meeting the other person; it’s non-threatening and is welcoming.
You do want to make a favourable first impression as it does impact on your interactions with clients, potential clients, customers, colleagues, and even in your personal life.
Learn more about how to make an impact by downloading the free eBook, The Power of Public Relations.
Read last week’s blog Power of Self Promotion to Build your Brand