On Saturday afternoon, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Young Women in Business – Simon Fraser University group. This group of young business students are very astute and soak in information. Maureen McKinnon began the afternoon session with her “May the Force Be With You” presentation on resumes, portfolios and interviews. Even I learned some new tips.
I was the second speaker. My presentation focused on making a good first impression. More about this in a moment. I was followed by Chelle Morgan who helped us with her fashion and cost saving ideas — a great job. Lastly, the YWiB executive shared tips on dinner etiquette. A wonderful addition to a well rounded program.
Prior to my presentation I sent out a tweet with the question, “First impressions are important. What trait or skill do you admire during a first impression?’ One response came from Tom Peters “Agree. But there are legitimate blink and non-blink theories. Some amazing people give mega-crappy 1st impressions.”
So do you agree with Tom’s response? I do. I also believe that amazing people who are authentic & engaging are able to quickly erase this mega-crappy 1st impression. Why? Because they make a connection by focusing on and engaging with the person they have just met. It takes a unique person to overcome a bad first impression. For most people, your bad 1st impression will have a lasting impact on your career or business.
If you want to make a ignite a great first impression, start with some SPARK
S — Set Your Course
What do you want to achieve at a networking event or in your career? What are your business or career goals? Who do you need to connect with to help make it happen? How will you make these connections?
P — Personal Brand
A strong personal brand will offer you a solid foundation to making a great first impression. Creating your Personal Brand starts with knowing and promoting your uniqueness - how you are different, your value proposition and how you communicate these traits. Authenticity is a critical component — trying to be someone else lessens your credibility and clarity.
A — Action
You cannot reach your goals without taking action. When you take action you can pro-actively create a strong first impression with everyone you meet. Some action items include
- a strong, clear and effective 30 second introduction, where you share your value.
- dress for success — so you fit the situation and remain authentically you
- a solid handshake — avoid a wippy grip!
- good posture and look people in the eye to make a connection.
- get out and network to build your circle of influence
How do you communicate your value, the solutions you solve, or what skills you have to offer to a potential employer? Do you let people know what you are looking for? Do you ask for help when needed?
R – Review and Rejig
When you attend a networking event did you achieve your goals? Did you make great connections? Was your intro solid and engaging? If your answer was ‘no’ then its time to rejig. Did you feel out of place? Was this because you didn’t know anyone, because you weren’t up-to-date on industry activities, or the situation was too stiff or too fluffy?
What ever the reason, we always have something to learn about ourselves when we take time to look at what was successful and what was not. Your gut instinct can tell you a lot as well — so make sure you listen.
K — Keep Connected
After interviews, networking events or when someone makes a referral or provides a reference, do you reconnect and send thanks? Do you follow-up by sharing information you promised? If not, you are dropping the ball and missing opportunities.
Keep connected to best practices and current information in your field, current events, and stay visible (even if you are busy). Out of site leads to out of mind.
What kind of first impression do you make? What steps will you take to make a fabulous impression from this day forward?