Make a Lasting Impression
When you walk into a room, what messages are you giving out to others and what opinions are you making about them in the first 7 seconds?
However much we say we are going to keep an open mind, we all make snap judgements based on minimal information. Women dislike it when people judgethem on face value, although we can all admit that we have been guilty of the same crime.
1. Look the Part
If you dress too formally you may alienate the person you are meeting with, if they follow a more business casual type of dress or vice versa. Find out before you meet with someone what dress code their company has (either from colleagues or the company website pics). Know what colours compliment you click here to see what messages you send out with the colours that you wear.
2. Radiate a Positive Attitude
A positive attitude attracts others to you. Your optimistic attitude can lift your client/colleague's spirits. Acknowledge every new relationship as being important by radiating a great attitude (even if you’re having a bad day). So how do you display a positive attitude?
• Avoid gossip. If you are wanting to climb the ladder of success you will not have time for gossip anyway. Cheap talk will not bring you admirers or success in the long run.
• Practice turning negative statements into positive ones.“Sorry I am not sure how the new system/procedure works” where as a positive attitude says “I will find out exactly what the procedure is and let you know by the end of the day.”
3. Strike the right Tone
A voice that's too shrill, or too loud can drive people away from you before you blink. What does your voice sound like? Record your voice and listen to it with someone that can give you an objective opinion. Check for the following:
• Volume - Speaking too loud can be annoying. On the other hand-a voice that is too soft can project you are weak and fearful.
• Pace - If you speak too fast, others won't get your message, you’ll seem nervous or scatter-brained. If you speak too slowly, people lose interest.
4. Pay attention to Introductions
In introductions, most people are preoccupied with what they’ll say next, anxious to cause a good impression. Relax, focus on the person and just listen: the best impression you can make is by calling the person by name later.
Develop a variety of greetings and opening lines according to each specific person/situation you encounter. Know how and when to use each.
5. Remember Names
Addressing a potential client or interviewer by their name, increases the likelihood that they will respond by 36%.
• Make sure you listen carefully to the name. If you didn’t hear it well, ask the person to repeat it - this will show you care. Moreover, if Mrs Qwanyashe Ndivhuwurageli speaks too fast, don´t be ashamed to ask her to repeat her name slowly.
• Convert a name into an image. Associate the person you are meeting with a known name - either a personal friend or a famous figure eg. you meet a Michelle (think Michelle Obama).
• If you have forgotten someone’s name - admit it as soon as possible and get the issue out of the way.
6. Be Punctual
Being late does not show how busy you are - it shows how disorganized you are. We all know traffic is bad nowadays - don’t use this as an excuse. Being on time shows respect for the person you are meeting - it also shows reliability. Arrive 5 -10 minutes earlier for your appointment, this will allow you to compose and prepare yourself. If you are 20 minutes or more earlier don’t announce yourself - people get anxious that there is someone waiting for them at reception.
7. Look them in the eye
Good eye contact telescopes how you feel about the audience and your topic. You instantly appear transparent, assertive and interested in the person and their conversation.
Without it, warning lights appear, and you can be seen as untrustworthy ("he can't look at me in the eye")or disinterested in the interaction. The eyes are the “window to the soul” - so remember your 1-1 interaction should be at least 60 - 70% eye contact. This also gives the impression that no one else matters but the person you are communicating with. What creates a connection, first and foremost, is strong eye contact. It is most important when opening your conversation, delivering key points or answering questions.
8. Do your Homework
Always do your research no matter what the occasion, it is not only a great conversation starter but shows that you are interested in the company or client that you are meeting with.
• Visit the prospective client’s website and browse through the “About Us,” “Our People,” “Media” and “News” sections. This way you are equipped with some information you can formulate a conversation around.
• Read industry journals related to the industry of the person you are dealing with. Learn the jargon of their business so that you are confident in initiating conversation.
9. Be an Attentive Listener
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. The best communicators are those that have the best listening skills - this is a top skill needed for success in business.
• Be interested - develop a genuine interest for what the person has to say. This will add warmth to your interactions with them. Every now and again say "I see", "I understand", "I agree" - this sends signals to the speaker that you are really listening.
• Focus completely on the speaker - avoid any interruptions.
• Face the speaker, nod your head and provide visual cues to show you are actively listening.
• Dont interrupt - let the speaker finish his statement before you reply.
• Occasionally summarize and repeat back in your own words what you understand of what they’re saying - to prevent any confusion.
10. Boost your Confidence
Self-confidence is a vital ingredient for success. If you believe in your product, company and yourself, it will shine through to your clients. So, how can you strive to be more self-confident?
• Start Each Day Ready for Action. Confident people don’t want to waste time. Start your day “on the front foot,” ready and prepared.
• Spend more time with people who uplift you and less time with "energy drainers".
• Calm yourself. Get rid of nervous energy. Walk around the office block or car park. Get focused - find a quiet spot to be alone and take a few breaths before you walk into the meeting room...smile-its a universal language.
• Overcome mingle-phobia. If you don't know anyone, walk up to a group, introduce yourself and say: "I don't know a soul at this event. May I join you guys?" This usually gets a warm reception and people start chatting with you immediately.
• Consider your strengths and weaknesses. Actively work on areas you feel less confident about eg. if you are anxious about speaking publicly, enrol in a presentation skills course. Click here for more info.
In the words of Will Rogers, remember....“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”
Haydee Antezana of Profesional Impressions email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.profimpressions.co.za