When talking about first impression, we all know way more about it than we are consciously aware of. The whole time, we are analysing people and being analysed too. No more than 4 minutes is needed for us to form up to 90% of our opinion about others. In such a short time, our brain unconsciously defines people’s trustworthiness, competence, warmth and confidence.
Research has shown that as human beings we form our opinion based on 55% non-verbal cues (facial expressions, body language and your external appearance); 38% vocal (tone of voice and other sounds) and just the remaining 7% is based on words that are actually said. This makes us conclude that the way we look and present ourselves really does matter. What I mean by this is that often we are so caught up worrying about what we are going to say and figuring it out the right words to impress that we neglect that our speech is meaningless if your body language, posture and tone of voice are not in accordance to the whole context.
There is a quote that says “the first impression is the love at first sight of the business world”, and I couldn’t agree more. If you are someone that is working hard and focused on achieving your dreams, every piece of constructive feedback on how you can be better perceived is gold.
Now that we are aware of the importance of our image, I will give you the three most powerful tips to create the best first impression in business:
1) SHOW UP READY
We never know when an opportunity may show up, which is the reason why we always need to be ready. Analyse yourself, your posture, your energy and see if you are truly a representation of the position or opportunity you are aiming for. When our external image doesn’t match our capabilities, it is a lot harder to build a positive and open first impression. Why start behind and make things more complicated than they need to be?
2) BE PRESENT
When in a conversation, be present and focus on whoever is speaking. To be even more polite and engaging, face the person directly when they are talking, make eye contact, nod your head to show you are paying attention, and finally, mirror their tone of voice and body language. The goal is to create a connection and certainty in the mind of the investor/interviewer that you want to do business with them.
3) REMEMBER AND REPEAT THE PERSON’S NAME
Remembering the person’s name is the cherry on top in creating likeability. Learn to develop this ability and give your full attention to people that are outside your usual social circles (an intern, someone else’s children, the barista at the coffee shop). Our name is the most important word for our brain, and when people remember it and continuously use it during a conversation, we subconsciously tend to create positive impressions about them. It is respectful, inclusive, and such a simple and powerful technique to use. For the first few seconds during introductions, maintain eye contact and repeat the name of the person you are talking to, which will increase your chances of remembering it, and ensure your initial interaction was memorable.
As you can see, we are more influenced by how we feel about others than by anything they say. It gives us further convincing evidence that we don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and our approach to any situation is the key factor in defining the outcome.
However, I’ll tell you something, and probably this is the most important advice about your image. The more real and honest you are, the more powerful your presence is. Be yourself, be always yourself even if you think you are too different, because when you connect to yourself, your values and beliefs, you speak out with confidence and passion, and this is what people like. Real people, real stories, new possibilities.
Article by: Fernanda Gazal
Founder of the Evolve Company / Coach in Personal Image and branding