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Creating a professional image is key to your success. Whether you're just starting out as an entrepreneur or a burgeoning freelancer, first impressions are crucial to gaining new clients and keeping your reputation. How you present yourself plays a very important part in making a great first impression during an initial meeting with a client or during an introduction at a networking function.
As shallow as it may seem, your physical appearance does matter. It says a lot about who are you and what you have to offer others. How you are perceived by others can make or break a deal. Giving off a strong first impression is the first step to gaining the trust of others and getting hired by the clients you hope to reach.
Think of first impressions as business etiquette. You’re setting the tone for a future business relationship and setting your expectations. You want people to see the best in you from the get-go. The three components of creating a first impression is the way you dress, the way you act and the way you speak.
According to Business Insider it takes 7 seconds to make a first impression. After that 7 seconds a mental image is formed in a person’s mind based on that first encounter. 55% of that message is transmitted by the speaker’s appearance and body language.
Following these general guidelines will set you on the path to success and getting that client to hire you!
1.) Dress the Part
Clothing is ranked as one of the top things people notice first when they make an initial judgment of a person. Your image should reflect your company's personality, industry and expectations. You want people to respect you and take you seriously. An article by Forbes stated people with nicer appearances are generally thought to be more productive and have more energy. If you’re not taking care of yourself you’re perceived as undisciplined.
Fashion is a form of self-expression and should also be fun! Dress in something you feel confident, competent and comfortable in. Don’t feel you need to wear a full suit or jacket if you don’t normally wear a blazer. There are of course exceptions to the rule. When you feel comfortable and presentable you seem in control of the situation. In turn others will have more confidence in you. You’ve invested in your business and how it’s run, it’s also good business sense to invest in yourself. A powerful professional wardrobe enhances your status and can lead you towards success.
Style Tip: When in doubt, err on the conservative side and dress up for the occasion. It’s better to overdress than under dress.
2.) You Are What You Wear
When you look good, you feel good. That positive affect translates into your work and interactions with others. When you’re not focused on how you look you’re focused on your performance and others. A first impression survey conducted by Censuswide in 2016 showed a link between how people dressed and how they felt. 52.2% stated being smartly dressed made them feel confident, 35.4% said they felt positive and 31.3% said they felt professional. By dressing the part you perceive you are capable of a task and you enhance your ability to actually achieve goals. When you exude confidence you walk tall, make eye contact and shake hands firmly. People want to know you’re engaged and confident.
3.) Top Off Your Look with a Smile
Talk with a smile. In most cases, you will find when you smile at a person they often smile back. Smiling is warm and inviting. It makes others feel comfortable around you and helps take off the edge. It’s important to show your client or the other person you’re happy to be there and looking forward to the opportunity ahead. Harvard Business School social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, found in her studies that when people meet the first time they judge by “how warm and trusting a person is” which tells them “what a person’s intentions are towards them.”
Be natural and authentic. A smile can also be the most memorable feature a person takes away after meeting for the first time. You want the first impression people get of your brand to be a positive one.
Managing your image helps create a great first impression, and helps you achieve your career goals and ambitions. What does your current image say about you and your business? Does your image project trustworthiness and competence or resonate with the clients you hope to reach?
Cocreativ is hosting a Dress for Success seminar at our South Tampa office space. Trust us, you won’t want to miss out on this event! Contact Andrea Romero the community manager, entrepreneur, and speaker for more details.