Pleased to meet you.
As a business professional, the impression you make on people you meet – virtually and in real life can have an impact on your future. So, it makes sense to make your best first impression. Time, however, is not on your side.
A person begins forming opinions about you within the first seven seconds of your encounter, and non-verbal elements have over four times the weight over what you actually say. You may not have the opportunity to say anything in person at all. Your first encounter may be through LinkedIn, your web site, a Yelp review, or interview. So how can you set yourself up to succeed?
1. Your personal brand. Take the extra time to consciously craft your personal image. What you wear and how you present yourself can contribute to achieving your business goals. For example, you might wear something in your brand color to networking events to visually align yourself with your business identity. Choose outfits appropriate to the occasion and ensure your outfit fits properly and is in good repair.
Dressing well is a form of good manners. – Tom Ford
Your digital first impression deserves the same consideration. Ensure your email address matches what you bring to the table. Are you an MBA graduate with a partydog64@ email address? Update that now. Check out your profile photo while you are there. Just as if you were meeting in person, select a profile photo that matches your business goals. Choose an in-focus, good resolution, current likeness of yourself for your web site and social presence. For a professional business impression, use a professional headshot.
2. Your focus. Before you launch into your elevator speech, take a moment and think about the kind of person you’d like to meet. Is it someone who just goes on and on about themselves? Probably not. A great conversation is two-sided. This is true whether you meet in person or digitally. First, focus on getting to know this new person.
Harvard social physchologist Amy Cuddy says warmth, or trustworthiness, is the most important factor in how people evaluate you. Further, competence is evaluated only after trust is established. So, hold the elevator speech until the connection is established.
Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark. – Jay Danzie
3. Your followup. End the encounter with the same deliberateness as you began. Use your new acquaintance’s name. Thank them for their time. In the next few days, if appropriate, strengthen the connection via LinkedIn or a personal note.
Finally, remember that best first impressions occur every day. The person next to you at the preschool recital could be across the conference table in your future.