Making a first impression count… why should I care?
The saying ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is true and even more so in the world of business. First impressions can stay with people for a long time, so it is key to know how to make the right one. Remember that everyone you meet will be different in how they want to interact with you so an element of flexibility on your part will always be required.
Why this model helps:
The iceberg model is a great metaphor for personal impact. An iceberg floats in the water with a large mass remaining below the surface. With only a small amount of the iceberg above the surface, this is similar to what people see when they first meet you. Your appearance, the words you use, how you say them; these are all of the things people will experience when meeting you. The aspects of you that are hidden go much deeper, like the iceberg under water. These are your personal experiences, beliefs, knowledge, values and abilities. People only truly find these out when they get beneath the surface and that happens later. In order to get that point you need make a first impression that makes people want to know more.
How to apply it:
Before your next meeting with someone new, consider the end of the meeting and the impression you want to have left them with. What will they have seen and heard from you that will have created that impression? Next, simply prepare your mindset and deliver the behaviours that will leave that impression. A handy model to help you consider the things that create your impact is the VVV approach.
V – Visual (how you look)
Before you go to a meeting, interview or event; do your research. What are the people like? What message does the business give out to the public? Tailor your look to the day and remember to still look like yourself. People can see when you try too hard! Also, be sure to consider your posture and positioning to give the best account of yourself.
V – Verbal (what you say)
Consider your environment and the people you are conversing with. Adapt your language to cater for those around you. For example you may use quite different language in a conversation with your colleagues compared to what you may use with a senior manager or client.
V – Vocal (how you sound)
Think about your volume; does it match what is required in the space you are in? Consider your tone; does it reflect that of those around you? It is no secret, when you meet people for the first time nerves can affect your voice. So how do you do get past this? Why not warm your voice up beforehand by rehearsing some of the interactions you may have.
Let’s take five minutes and remember the last time you met someone new. Make notes on the following:
- How did they look?
- What did they say and do that made an impression on you?
- How did they sound?
Once you have noted the above, think about what you conclude about this person and in turn, what this means for you.
Some Catseye wisdom:
When coaching individuals in personal impact and making the right impression we also consider the authenticity of the impact. We find people being themselves works so much better and that changing your natural style too much can be just as bad as too little. Becoming more self-aware and adding a small 10% flex in some aspects of your behaviour makes creating a positive impact far more achievable.