I was volunteer for a boys youth camp with my church a few weeks ago. One of my responsibilities was to judge how clean, or not, the cabins were. Some you could almost tell, before you even opened the door, if inside the cabin would be neat or not. This what a first impression is like, right or wrong. People make assumptions, right or wrong, about you based on your first impressions.
As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” And it’s true. First impressions are powerful and long-lasting. Within seconds of meeting someone, we form an impression of them that can be difficult to change. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, your first impression can make or break a deal, a client relationship, or a partnership. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different elements that contribute to a first impression, and how you can make sure you’re showing up in the best possible way.
How Do You Look
Your appearance is the first thing people will notice about you. While we don’t want to judge a book by its cover, it’s human nature to form opinions based on appearance. This doesn’t mean you need to be conventionally attractive or stylish, but it does mean you should present yourself in a way that aligns with your personal brand and industry. Dressing too casually or sloppily can give the impression that you don’t care about your business. On the other hand, dressing too formally can make you seem unapproachable. Find a happy medium that makes you feel confident and reflects your brand.
How Do You Act
Beyond your appearance, your demeanor and behavior are also important components of a first impression. How do you carry yourself? Are you confident, friendly, and approachable? Or do you come across as shy, aloof, or disinterested? Nonverbal cues such as eye contact, handshake, and posture can all impact how people perceive you. Think about how you want people to feel when they meet you, and try to embody that in your behavior.
How Do You Make People Feel
This is perhaps the most important aspect of a first impression. People will forget what you said and what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. When you meet someone, make an effort to connect with them on a personal level. Ask them questions about themselves and really listen to their answers. Remember their name and use it in conversation. Give them your undivided attention and make them feel valued. By making people feel important and understood, you’ll leave a lasting impression.
Your Words Matter
Of course, what you actually say is also important. Be thoughtful and intentional with your words, and avoid filler phrases or slang that can make you seem unprofessional. Speak clearly and confidently, and try to avoid nervous tics like “ums” and “likes”. If you’re giving a presentation or pitch, rehearse it beforehand to ensure you’re communicating your message clearly and effectively.
Choices You Make
Finally, remember that your first impression extends beyond the initial meeting. Your follow-up actions and behaviors will also impact how people perceive you. Be punctual, reliable, and responsive. Send a thank you note or email after a meeting. Follow up on any promises or commitments you made. By being consistent and dependable, you can reinforce the positive first impression you’ve created.
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, your first impression can have a big impact on your success. By paying attention to your appearance, behavior, and words, you can make sure you’re showing up in the best possible way. Remember that people will not only remember what you said and did but how you made them feel. By focusing on making a genuine connection with others, you’ll leave a lasting impression and establish long-term relationships.