You have seconds rather than minutes before someone decides if they will do business with you. Their first impression of will determine what they expect of you. Make that first impression positive and your life will be so much easier. There are Five Essential Components of Your Image to consider: Hidden, Assumed, Visual, Experienced and Proven.
Your Hidden Image: The impression you project depends a lot on what you believe about yourself, your past experiences and what fear may be holding you back from presenting at your most confident.
Your Assumed Image: People are pre-conditioned to develop expectations about a person even before they meet, so the right response is vital to taking that relationship further. That first impression depends a lot on what people already believe about you – what they have read or heard about you, where you work and the role you hold, where you are from and your affiliations.
Your Visual Image: When you are assessing or being assessed, if the dress code suits, it answers the question about your professionalism or compatibility with a company or a group.
Your Experienced Image: Manners count. Business manners and basic etiquette work on the premise that consideration and respect towards your acquaintance, opponent or colleague will get you ahead.
Your Proven Image: In the long run, whether you keep your promises and deliver over time will be what counts most.
All theEssential Components of Image require acknowledgement and action in order to project a Professional Image.
Expectations of dress will vary depending on the organisation you represent. People will be looking for you to conform to stereotypes associated with a job. A lawyer or chief financial officer will not be expected to dress like the creative director from an advertising agency and the showroom manager of a fashion PR company.
If you surprise by your appearance, your credibility may be quetioned. If you want to impress management and foster an outcome in your best interests, remember their impressions are shaped by their range of beliefs which make them receptive to you. Consider any cross cultural expectations and differences to minimise miscommunication.
There’s no single message about nice shoes or wearing the right clothes. It’s psychologically much more subtle than that. In the beginning, it’s about not violating the norms and perceptions – “a lawyer or financier in a dark suit, an art director in a black sweater”. Think of Impression Management in additional to skills and knowledge to create a positive outcome in getting to the next step in your career.
When you are out to impress someone for the first time, do your homework, find out about the person or people you are going to meet, practice speaking at home, a firm handshake. When it comes to First Impressions, the eyes meet and, though it’s not deliberate, people make immediate, unconscious judgements about honesty and trustworthiness. To give you an advantage, this is the moment to look open and candid.
Non-verbal communication is really very important. You know if someone is interested in talking to you or not, by their eye contact, smile and gestures. These are basic social beliefs. People put a lot of value on cultural cues and if you aren’t aware of them, be prepared to face difficulties.
These days it’s not just your company that is “branded” because you are too. Be aware of your own “brand management”.
To get the response you are looking for, you need personal confidence. By extension, that means the way you shake hands, carriage, eye contact and facial expression.
Once we make contact, by shaking hands with an appropriate degree of eye contact and personal space, it’s about the words your speak and a confident vocal presence. Within 10 seconds, all of that is going to work for or against you.
We don’t often get the opportunity to talk about the impression we make without feeling we’re revealing a weakness. Individual coaching can be very helpful providing an objective and supportive environment in which to gain constructive observations and suggestions.
Subtle changes have amazing effects. Once we are at ease with our impact, we can draw on our experience and enjoy the space to concentrate on the other person. When you make others feel comfortable it will be easier to develop rapport. You will no longer be concerned about ‘Is he or she impressed by me?’ when you feel you have a great rapport with each other.
It’s difficult to give a formula about manners, but there are simple considerations that are important. Don’t come on too strong as it’s exhausting to others. Talking over people is inconsiderate, as is holding the floor, which doesn’t allow other people into the discussion. Be confident enough to let someone else have a point of view. Some people talk all the time to ward off the other person, which is annoying and frustrating.
Personal presentation can undermine or establish your credibility, especially at the senior level. If you are lacking, it brings your credibility into question. Many people gain an advantage on their competitors, not because they are any better qualified for the job but because they present themselves as if they are. Give yourself the edge by managing all 5 components of Your Image.