We all know that, in general, first impressions matter. Our last article showed that first impressions are even more important in business than in general. First impressions are created extremely quickly and bad ones can rarely be fully reversed.
Read on to ensure you convey a professional appearance every time.
Have the Right Look
When it comes to creating a first impression, presenting a good professional appearance cannot be underestimated. Literally every aspect of your appearance and how you come across counts. Choose professional clothes that go well with your body shape. However, make sure your dress is appropriate for the business you are dealing with. A conservative dark suit may look great when meeting with an investment bank. Yes, it may not be the best selection for an interview with a creative services company. Have an attractive neat hairstyle and know that even your accessories (briefcase, purse, watch, rings, pens) count informing your impression. You may want to research proper dress so that you will have a better idea of what to wear.
Watch Your Body Language and Behavior
Although very important, your clothes are not the only thing you are being judged on. Your body language and how you behave and converse are also very critical in creating your image. Communication skills are essential to success according to the Harvard Business Review. The following are tips which can assist you in making a solid first impression.
- Be on time: Prepare to arrive at an appointment early in case you run into any delays.
- Be friendly: A winning smile creates a good first impression but don’t go overboard with it.
- Communicate clearly: Use good etiquette and offer a strong handshake.
- Stand straight: Head up, shoulders back, and arms to your side.
- Maintain eye contact: Face the speaker.
- Greet people by their name and enunciate your own name clearly.
- Ask questions but listen as much as you talk. When speaking, project a strong voice. A bit of appropriate small talk can help keep a conversation going such as finding out something about them or their interests.
- Turn your mobile phone off to avoid distractions.
- Be friendly with not just your main contact but everyone at the office. This includes others in the elevator, the decision maker’s secretary and the janitor. You never know who might be included in a key decision that affects your career.
Check Your Presence at the Office, the Internet and the Phone
Suppose you are the employer and are expecting a potential client to make an appearance at your office. Your chances of doing business with that client are enhanced if you have a neat, professional looking office space. An untidy office will create the opposite impression.
In today’s world, many business connections and transactions occur over the Internet and on the phone. These connections which are virtual mean you have even less time to create your good first impression. Putting together an attractive, eye-catching professional website will reap benefits for your business. Business done over the phone is also a high priority and not something to be given short shrift. A customer who is not greeted politely on the phone or is kept waiting will naturally conclude their business is not significant to you.
The New Business Landscape
You have undoubtedly discovered that the old business model of working for a company for 40 years with mutual unending loyalty is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Today’s business world is inhabited by independent contractors, consultants and freelancers. Coworking, in which people working independently or in teams sharing an office space is rapidly gaining in popularity. Despite these new trends, the same rules of creating a good first impression still apply.
Even the practice of receiving visitors is evolving. Modern offices are employing visitor management systems that use a visitor self-help check-in apps. This can make an excellent impression on the client as they experience no waiting for a receptionist—in other words, efficiency in practice. They also give the visitor more time to get themselves in order before their first interaction with someone on your staff.
A couple of statistics to bolster the case. 87% of customers will relate good experiences to others while 95 percent will describe a bad experience. What happens if you make a mistake in your first impression? While more often than not fatal to your prospects, you may be able to salvage the situation by over-delivering to them for the remainder of your relationship. But why take that chance? Take the effort you need to prepare for that all important first impression.