First Impressions Matter

dress-upDo you worry about making a good first impression? I’ve got a few tips that will allow you to leave a great first impression.

The Importance of Making a Good First Impression

I’m not talking about how pretty or handsome you are, although that might help! I’m talking about the way you’re dressed, whether you look clean, polished and professional. And the way you hold yourself – your body language. All these elements constitute how people gauge their first impression of you.

It’s up to you whether the impression is good or bad. But no matter which it is, remember, it takes a long time to change that first impression – usually over a year. So why not make it a good first impression.

A research study done in 2011 by the University of California, Berkeley, showed that most of us make judgments about people within the first 20 seconds of meeting them. And what do we judge people on, sometimes even before they’ve said a word:

  • Competence
  • Credibility
  • Honesty
  • Trustworthiness

That’s a lot! This proves to me how important it is to do what it takes to make a strong first impression – whether you are a business owner, employee or job seeker. It matters.

3 Key Things You Can Do to Leave a Good Impression

I believe that the three most important things you can do when you enter a person’s office or meet a person for the first time are: (1) smile, (2) have good eye contact and (3) a firm handshake. Those three things alone will set you apart from many people and leave a good first impression.

Work Hard to Make a Great Impression

Other things to remember: dress appropriately, whether that is business casual or more formal. Don’t wear torn blue jeans, sandals or sleeveless shirts. It is a sign of respect for the person you’re meeting that you dress well. And keep in mind the basics: clean hands and nails, combed hair, polished shoes, shirt tucked in and ironed. (Personally, I’m a bit “iron-challenged”, so get no-iron fabrics and call it good).

Any tattoos? Don’t let them show. They may look cool to you and were a lot of fun to do with your  friends last summer. But in no way is a tattoo viewed as professional, unless you’ve been recruited by a tattoo parlor. My advice: Cover it up.

We live in a casual world today, but when you’re giving a presentation, meeting with a prospective client or looking for a job, you need to dress for the occasion. It will pay off.

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