What would you say if I told you that people make up their mind about you within the first 30 seconds? In that short amount of time, most people have decided whether they want to get to know you better, want to be your friend, or want to do business with you. All before you have most likely even uttered a word. Your appearance, your body language, and the expression on your face have told them most of what they need to know to determine if they want to invest in this relationship further.
While first impressions have always been important, in this economy they are even more critical. We live in a time where competition is fierce and customers are in control, making first impressions one of the key differences between those who merely survive these times and those who thrive.
Think about it, why are some people seeing record profits and building more relationships, while others are struggling to close a deal? About a third of the people I know site last year as one of the strongest business growth years they have ever had, while about two-thirds consider it one of the worst. Given that information, and note there are always exceptions, I would argue that those who are struggling – not the economy – need to change. Now while those words may sound tough they are really empowering. When the issue is “you” that is good news. “You” are something you have full power and control over, you can make you better, and you can position “you” to thrive in this economy. Taking the position that the issue is you, puts you in the drivers seat.
The first impression you make becomes the foundation of your continuous impression. Start out positive and people tend to look for more positive every time they interact with you. Moving your positive impression into your positive brand. Your brand is your way of telling the world who you are, what you stand for, the value you add, and the difference you make. Your brand is what people emotionally connect to.
So how do you develop a strong and positive brand? Simply follow these four strategies:
First – Define It! You must decide what you want your brand to be. How do you want to see yourself? How do you want others to describe you? What first and continuous impression do you want to make? This is all up to you and all within your control. What you need to understand is the impression you make it pretty much up to you. It is yours to define and yours to create.
Second – Look the part! Fifty-five percent of a person’s first impression of you is based on your appearance. Your appearance needs to match your brand for it to be positive. Face it, we are all prejudice, we want our doctor to have clean finger nails, and our mechanic to have dirty ones, we want our personal trainer to be in shape, and our dentist to have straight white teeth. When appearance matches brand it gives us comfort and helps build trust.
Appearance is also about body language, eye contact and facial expression. Strong posture and direct eye contact build confidence, while a smile and warm eyes convey approachability.
Third – Choose Your Words and Take Action! Only 7% of a first impression is based on the words you speak. Think about that, why do we spend so much time worrying about what we are going to say? More than 38% is based on our tone. Think about the words and tone your choose. Do they add energy or deplete it? Do you choose to be positive about things or are you sarcastic? Do you complain or are you supportive and solution oriented? It is not what you say but how you say it that makes a positive impression.
Actions speak ten times louder than words. Taking action, doing what you say you are going to do, and following up and following through builds trust and helps others feel confident in your ability.
Fourth – Be A Resource! Add value. If you want to truly make your brand your competitive edge, then you need to understand and be able to share the value you bring to the table. Work to make yourself an expert in your field. Become visible and supportive to others so you become viewed as a resource and someone that others turn to for information and help. Commit to life long learning and development.
Understand in today’s economy Everything Speaks. Everything you do, the way you look, the words you choose, the information you share both in person and online tell the world who you are, what is important to you, and how you can add value to their lives. Invest in creating the brand you want, and watch your brand become your competitive edge.