6 Secrets to Creating a Powerful First Impression

First Impressions

Whether you like it or not you are judged by the first impression you make on others. From the moment you first meet someone you have about sixty seconds to make a good impression. This article will show you six secrets to creating a powerful first impression.

Regardless of whether it’s fair or whether it’s correct, it’s a true fact that the first impression is how we judge each other. There is an old saying that goes, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” After that you’re done. Your chance is over. If you make a bad first impression then you are constantly working on damage control. You will always be remembered for that first impression, good or bad. Therefore it’s extremely important that you learn how to make a powerful and positive first impression.

Think for a moment about the different people you have met in your life. Wasn’t it something about your first meeting with them that drew you to them? Isn’t it true that those people who have made the most powerful impact on your life are the ones that presented a powerful and positive first impression? What was it about that meeting that had such an impact on you? If you think about it you will realize that there are certain things these people did that impressed you. They knew the secrets of making a powerful first impression. No you will know the secrets too.

Secret Number 1: Take the Lead

What this means is to be outgoing. Don’t wait for the other person to step forward and greet you. You take the initiative. You be the one to step forward, shake hands, greet the other person and initiate the conversation. By doing this you are taking control of the situation and you are establishing a first impression as a leader; a person who is not fearful, timid or shy. You can’t help but be impressed when someone comes up to you, shakes your hand, introduces himself and initiates a conversation. Your goal is to be that person.

Secret Number 2: Smile

Okay, this is going to seem obvious yet it’s amazing how many people don’t do this. It is to SMILE!

Think about when another person greets you. Think about the difference in how you feel about the other person when they greet you with a cheerful smile or when they greet you coolly with a scowl on their face. What a difference between the two types of greetings.

It’s just common sense that we like to be greeted with a smile. It makes us feel more comfortable. It makes us like the other person more. We feel non-threatened. We feel accepted. We feel like it’s a safe place to be when the other person is smiling and in a good mood. We trust someone more when they are cheerful. A side benefit is that we just simply look better with a smile on our face than without one. So smile when you greet others.

Secret Number 3: Exchange Names

Whole books have been written on this subject. Countless articles have covered this subject. We all should know by now that the sweetest sound in the human language is a person’s own name. Secret number 3 is about exchanging names.

You need to get the other person’s name if you don’t have it. If you already have their name then you need to use it. Knowing their name and using their name is an excellent way to make a good first impression. You don’t always have the chance of knowing the names of who you will be meeting. If you already know their name, then use their name in greeting them. If you don’t know their name this is where you get their name.

To get their name, you can say “Hi, I’m James Walker. I don’t believe I’ve met you before.” They will generally give their name at this point. The other person says, “Hi, I’m Natasha Stevenson.” You say, “Natasha Stevenson, that’s an interesting name. Where did it come from?” By repeating it back you do two things. First it helps you remember their name and they like to hear their name. It also helps you to know that you heard it correctly and are pronouncing it correctly. One of the biggest social blunders is to mispronounce someone’s name.

If you are being introduced to a group of people, then one by one go up to each person and smile, shake their hand, give your name and then get their name. Repeat their name back to them. Do this greeting for each one, making a mental note of each name. There are many techniques for remembering names but that’s beyond the scope of this article. The point is to use one of the common name-remembering techniques to remember their names.

Secret Number 4: Dress the Part

Dress for success – we’ve all heard that term. Some people say, “People shouldn’t judge me by how I look. They should judge me for who I am.” That’s nice to say but that’s not reality. People do judge you by how you look. We do judge books by their cover. We wouldn’t even look in a book, let alone buy one, if we weren’t impressed with the cover. So, just like a book, you have to sell yourself on the outside.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to dress nice in my opinion. Maybe some people can tell the difference between a $90 shirt and a $20 shirt. A nice dress shirt that is pressed and in good condition or a nice dress that fits well and looks good on you will make a big difference. It’s really not so much the price of the clothes but the choice of the style and the fit and that it complements you. The way you dress has an impact on other people. If your shoes are scuffed and dirty, people notice those things about you. It tells them a little bit about who you are, your personality, your character. If you look nice, that makes a difference.

Some people can overdo it. They can be very overdressed with their Rolex watches and Armani suites and it’s obvious that that person may have a self-image problem and is trying to over-compensate or over-impress and in most cases it accomplishes exactly the opposite effect. Think about it. When was the last time a Rolex watch really impressed you? These days, for all you know, it was bought in Mexico for $15.00.

I think, within reason, you dress the part. In most situations there are different levels of dress. Obviously there is everything from a jogging outfit consisting of sweats and a t-shirt all the way up to formal wear. You have to judge what is the appropriate dress for the situation, whether it’s formal, nice business casual, casual or whatever.

It has always been my feeling that you should dress slightly one notch above how you think everyone else will dress. The idea is not that you will look ridiculously out of place but that you will simply stand out slightly. It’s much better to be one notch above than one notch below how other people are dressing. It can be very embarrassing to be in a situation where you are obviously underdressed. If everyone else is in a suit and you are in an open-collared shirt, you will feel very out of place and others will notice it too.

Secret Number 5: Show Interest

Secret number 5 is to show interest in the other person. People can’t help but be impressed with someone who is interested in them. It’s human nature. It’s irresistible. We all have an innate, natural, desire built into us to want to feel important. It’s part of being human. When someone shows interest in us it elevates our impression of them. Just like stroking a cat, she’ll hang around for more.

The way you do it is simple. Just notice things about them. If their name is of an obvious ethnic decent or they have an accent or there is something about them that is interesting to you, ask them about it. Be inquisitive.

Yesterday I had a business lunch with three people. Two of them I had never met before. One of them was a woman. She epitomized a lot of what I am saying here. She was very outgoing and friendly. She dressed very nice but wasn’t overdressed for the situation. I noticed she had an accent. It was very intriguing. I couldn’t quite place where the accent was from. So I asked her where she was from. She said, “You mean where I live now or originally?” I said, “Originally. I noticed you have an accent.” She told me she was from Moscow, Russia. So that brought up a conversation where she told me a lot about Moscow and what it was like. She went on to tell me about St. Petersburg and many other things about Russia. All this came from just one little observation and me showing interest in her.

Secret Number 6: Establish Your Credentials

This is the tricky one. Nobody likes “a brag.” We are all turned off by someone who boasts and talks about themselves incessantly. However, there is a point in a conversation where you need to establish who you are and what your credentials are. When I say “credentials” I mean what you do and what your title is. The other person does need to know who they are dealing with. This is something that should be done quickly and without a lot of glorification or fanfare. It should be done in an unpretentious and modest way.

For example, you might say, “Hello, I’m Mark Jones. I’m the IT Manager of XYZ Corporation. It’s my job to see that all the computer systems are running smoothly and efficiently.” A quick establishment of your credentials.

Maybe your credentials aren’t too impressive. “I’m Fred Smith. I’m a sanitation engineer for Waste Management. My job is to collect the excess refuge from each dwelling in the Smithville region.” You’re a garbage collector! You don’t have to glorify what you do. Yes, you want to present who you are in the best light possible but not with an absurdly overblown or embellished description.

Perhaps you don’t have any credentials. Maybe you’re just starting out. You wouldn’t say, “I’m currently unemployed. Nobody wants to hire me because I’m a loser.” You probably don’t want to say that. You should approach it in a better way such as, “I’m currently working on a business opportunity to teach and train individuals in the area of positive persuasion. That’s my specialty, my expertise. That’s what gets me up in the morning. I’m very passionate about this and that’s who I am.”

So find some way of presenting your credentials of who you are and what you do.

Become the Master of Powerful First Impressions

By following these 6 simple secrets you will be able to master and create powerful first impressions. You will see that people respond to powerful first impressions by giving you the respect and attention due any effective leader. You will be able to step out in a bold, confident manner and begin to positively influence and persuade others to your way of thinking.

Remember, if you blow your first impression it may be your last. So take charge of that first sixty seconds and leave a great first impression.

Marketing Yourself, Part 3 – Improve Your Packaging

Improve your packaging

(Note: This is Part 3 of a four part series on Marketing Yourself)

What is your packaging saying about you?

There are many ways products are marketed. One way is by their packaging. As you walk up and down the aisles of any store you will be confronted with every type of retail packaging, fighting for your attention. Retail packaging is meant to do several things. Its first job is to get your attention, almost saying, “Hey, look at me!” Second, packaging communicates a message about what’s inside the box or package. Third, by its style and design it sends a message about the quality of the product inside.

Like retail product packaging, you too are communicating to those around you by your packaging, so to speak. The way you look can say a lot about you. People size you up in seconds and make decisions about you before you ever open your mouth.

Some say, “People shouldn’t judge me by how I look. They should judge me for who I am.” That’s nice to say and probably right but it’s not reality. People do judge you by how you look. We do judge books by their cover. We wouldn’t even look in a book, let alone buy one, if we weren’t impressed with the cover.

Here are 5 simple tips to help improve your personal packaging:

1. Dress nice

Okay, that sounds obvious, but look around you and see what people are wearing these days. You may have seen the Walmart People videos on YouTube. Make sure you’re not one of them! We all can do better. It doesn’t take a lot of money to dress nice in my opinion. Maybe some people can tell the difference between a $120 shirt and a $20 shirt but most can’t. A nice dress shirt that’s in good condition and pressed or a nice dress that fits well and looks good on you will make a big difference. It’s really not so much the price of the clothes but the choice of the styles and how they fit. If your clothes don’t fit, are old, worn out or out of style then it’s high-time you invested in some updated “personal packaging.”

2. Dress to fit the occasion

I think, within reason, you should dress to fit the occasion, meaning dress the part. For every occasion there is an expected level of dress. Obviously you can wear anything from a swimsuit, a jogging outfit, sweats and a t-shirt, jeans and a polo shirt, all the way up to formal attire such as suits, tuxedos, formal dresses and gowns. It depends on the situation. You have to judge what is the appropriate dress for the occasion, whether it’s formal, nice business casual, casual or whatever.

3. Dress slightly one notch above

Compared to other people in your organization, are you dressed on par with them or below? When others are dressed in Dockers and a button up shirt are you dressed in jeans, flip-flops and a t-shirt? This is probably not good for your personal marketing plan.

It’s always been my feeling that you should dress slightly one notch above what you think everyone else will be wearing. The idea is not that you will look ridiculously out of place but that you will simply stand out slightly.

It’s much better to be one notch above than one notch below how you think everyone is going to be dressed. It’s very embarrassing to be in a situation where you are obviously underdressed. If everyone else is in a suit and you’re in an open-collared shirt, you will feel very out of place and others will see that. You will feel it. You can stand out in a positive way or a negative way. The point is, if you’re going to stand out, stand out on the above-end not the below-end.

4. Mind your health

This can be a struggle for many, but let’s face it; a healthy, fit person comes across in a much more positive light than someone that isn’t. Again, you are being sized up by everyone around you within seconds of meeting you. Whether it’s right or not, it IS happening. You do it. We all do it. If you are serious about your personal marketing plan then you need to address any health issues within your control that may turn other people off.

5. Smile

Your smile is definitely part of marketing yourself. Your total self-image and your packaging include your demeanor. Do you have a smile on your face? Are you cheerful and happy? You don’t have to say anything with a smile. Just a simple smile at somebody sends a huge, positive message. People will want to be around you. They will have a positive impression of you.

Think for a moment about the people you deal with. Which people are you more likely to work with and cooperate with? Isn’t it generally those people who approach you with a smile on their face, who are cheerful and are in a good mood? You know how you feel when the person you’re dealing with has a scowl on their face. It’s not a pleasant experience. Their mood rubs off on you. By nature you tend to resist that person. You don’t want to be with that person. I’m sure, if you deal with any people at all, you can think of examples in both of these cases: those who are cheerful and have smiles on their faces and those who don’t. If you are like 99.9% of all human beings on this earth, you will prefer to work with and deal with the person who is happy and cheerful and has a smile on their face.

As part of your personal marketing plan you need to make sure you have a smile on your face as often as you can. Plus you just frankly look better with a smile on your face than when you don’t. So smile!

(Look for the upcoming final article in this four-part series on Marketing Yourself)

What is Your Personal Brand?

My Personal Brand

What is Branding?

One thing that companies do to promote a product is what is called “branding” or “building the brand.” Whenever you think of a brand such as Coca Cola, Apple, or Nike, certain thoughts and ideas run through your mind. You have an image of what these companies represent and what their products are like. Companies spend millions of dollars building and developing their brand.

For example, when you hear the name Apple, what comes to your mind? My first thought is of the Apple logo. Then thoughts and images of some of Apple’s products run through my mind such as the iPhone, iPod, iPad and iMac. Then I think of Apple’s reputation of making beautifully designed, high quality products that anybody can use. This is what “branding” does – it creates thoughts, feelings, perceptions and images that are linked to a specific product or company.

Your Own Personal Brand

Like it or not, you are creating your own personal brand on a daily basis. Your personal brand is made up of the thoughts, feelings, perceptions and images that people think of when they think of you. The corporate world spends a ton of money managing and building their individual brands. What have you done lately to build your brand?For that matter, do you even know what your brand is? When someone thinks of you, what do they think?

Everyone Has a Brand

I have three friends that each have unique personal brands. My friend Mat is known for being just about the nicest guy around. He is always helping people and would give you the shirt off his back if you asked him. My friend Travis is known as a go-getter, very motivated and business-like. He also loves the outdoors and gives the impression of a rugged, strong man. My third friend, Colin, has a much different personal brand. Everything he owns, uses or is involved with is of extreme high quality and also very expensive. Everything he does, he does with class.

Think for a moment about some of the people that you know. You’ll see that there are certain traits about each person that immediately come to mind. They may be a pain to be around. Maybe they are fun or funny or pleasant or self-centered or giving. Whatever comes to mind is their personal brand. It’s who they are to you and others.

You Are Creating Your Brand Every Day

The same thing happens when people think about you. What is your brand? When someone thinks of you, what do they think of? People who know you have already sized you up and judged you. You are developing your personal brand every day by the way you deal with and interact with others. Writer Howard Hodgson said, “Whatever business you are in, you are in a business of relationships. That’s why your reputation is your greatest asset.”

You need to understand what your personal brand is and make sure it’s what you want it to be. Is it the brand you want? Are there things about you that you need to work on and change?

Protect and Manage Your Brand

Corporations are very concerned with building, managing and controlling their brands. They will go to great lengths to make sure nothing taints or damages their brand. How are you doing with your own brand? Are you careful with it? Do you make sure you don’t damage it by doing stupid things or being inconsistent in your life? Your personal brand is what others perceive who you are. Is it what you want it to be? If not, then I encourage you to take the steps you need to repair, protect and manage your brand.