It’s a simple reality of business that a killer first impression can lead to the dream opportunities, clients or collaborations you’ve been working so hard to secure.
People who nail the first impression are the ones landing the gigs, even if they may not be the best at the job itself. Why? Because you may be one of a million that’s offering the same service, but ultimately people are buying people.
Those who are neglecting to develop a memorable image and personal brand are getting left behind.
Within seven seconds of meeting someone for the first time, 11 rapid-fire decisions are made about you based on the way that you choose to “self-package” yourself.
These decisions are based on three factors of your representation; your visual (what you wear, how you wear it), physiological (body language, posture) and verbal (not what you say, but the tone of voice that you say it in). Your image forms 80% of that impression.
Let me walk you through a scenario.
Say you and I have arranged to meet for the first time. You’re interested in my professional image development services, I’m interested in seeing whether you’re a client I want to take on board.
This is how I’d play it out to ensure I’m making a killer first impression, aligned with how I want my personal brand to be perceived.
1. I’ll choose to wear an outfit that is the truest reflection of my personal brand; unique yet identifiable (who you see of me online must be consistent with how I present myself in person)
2. The outfit will reveal my decolletage. When this area is exposed it creates the perception of openness and approachability. When it’s covered up, it’s the equivalent of crossed arms in body language.
3. The colours of my outfit will be of contrasting tones. Say, blue and white. Contrasting colour creates the psychological impression of leadership and decision making ability. It says “I have an opinion, there is no grey area”.
4. My hair and make-up will be done; my look will be aligned from top to toe. This says “high attention to detail” and the strength in “following through”.
5. Before I step out of my apartment, I’ll tell myself that I’ve looked after myself and it is no longer about me; from that point forward it is only about the people I interact with.
6. I’ll arrive at our meeting location and walk through the door with purpose; like I deserve to be there. I’ll stand tall and my pace will be steady.
7. My handbag will be to my side and so will any collateral I’m holding. Open body language at all times.
8. I’ll make eye contact with you from the across the room and smile (a genuine one that lights up my eyes).
9. By now, your subconscious mind will be in overdrive and you’ll be making 11 decisions about me. Can I trust her? Is she who she says she is? Is she reliable? Is she professional? Will she get me results?
10. I’ll walk over to you and shake your hand, introduce myself (with my first name and surname, always) and make sure I say your name back to you (people love hearing their name said back to them).
11. I’ll have an ice-breaker to kick things off with to make light of the situation and my body will be on a 45 degree angle to yours (directly face to face is too confrontational).
12. From this moment on, I will make sure that all my energy is focused on you and you will be feeling like you are the only person on this planet.
Killer first impression nailed.
Colette Werden is a style and image specialist for female entrepreneurs and professionals. She is the founder of her self-named business Colette Werden which works on assisting women who are striving to get ahead in their industry. In 2014, Werden launched her revolutionary leading-edge The Ratio System™, system which takes the guess work out of which outfit works and which doesn’t.
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