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Janine and I wish to thank you sincerely for the considerable professional expertise you displayed in re-structuring our personal finances. We appreciated particularly your knowledge of numerous financial produ...


First Impressions

Open doors, increase business opportunities, get the edge in the job market.

Carolyn Hands is a Personal Image Coach and the Director of Distinctive Directions. Carolyn's passion is to inspire individuals and organizations to send clear consistent messages about who they are, what they have to offer and where they want to go.

Whatever your goal, the first impression that others have of you plays a significant part in achieving the results you want. A powerful first impression is a window to who you are, how trustworthy and honest you are, your level of confidence and success, your personality, how friendly and approachable you are how like the other person you may be.

A good first impression is one that reflects the real you. By presenting the best of yourself, the self you want to share, you are making the impression that is right for you.

You may have had the experience when you've met someone whom you like, you want to work with or do business with, and yet they haven't returned your interest - and you've wondered why.

There are many points to check that will assist you to become clearer about the perception others have of you, including:

  • Do you smile and acknowledge others?
  • Are you well groomed, stylish and comfortable with you appearance?
  • Is your personal style current? (Includes hairstyling, glasses, ties etc and is particularly relevant to over 45's)
  • Do you have a firm and welcoming handshake?
  • Do you make appropriate eye contact?
  • Does the tone of your voice match you visual image?

These and many other clues are a window to who you are.

Appearances do matter in first impressions. When you look good and appear comfortable with yourself, your appearance can then recede from attention, so that people go beyond the outer packaging and pay attention to what you have to offer. This is relevant at a job interview, a first time sales meeting with a new client or a business meeting with a new prospect.

Three key points to effectively manage your first impression and how others perceive you are to be:

  1. Goal effective - know the outcome you want to achieve, do your homework and then check that your visual, verbal and non-verbal image is in alignment with your goals. A weak handshake together with poor posture and no eye contact is not in alignment with a goal of securing a major contract or position. The perception may be of disinterest, low confidence, or of being tired or bored.
  2. Appropriate - includes checking that your image is appropriate to the work place or environment. A personal appearance, which is creative with unstructured, high fashion styling, is not appropriate for workplaces such as traditional law firms or financial institutions. It may however be appropriate for a marketing or graphic design studio.
  3. Enhancing - includes the colour and style of clothing and accessories you choose to wear. Know that your grooming is immaculate and enhancing to you.

To create a great first impression you must manage the visual, verbal and non-verbal clues to who you are and what you do. When you have this knowledge and insight, others will want to listen to you, know you and do business with you.

This article is reprinted from our quarterly published "Financial Matters" Newsletter, Winter 2006 issue.

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