We all know that we tend to size somebody up in the first few seconds of meeting them, and those first impressions tend to govern how we behave toward that person. Of course, we can and do change or moderate our view once we get to know the person a bit better, but there’s no doubt that first impressions do play an inordinate role in shaping how we see others, and how they see us.
Of course, part of creating a good first impression is how one presents oneself, but it’s much more than that. Use your clothing and personal grooming to set the tone for how you want to be seen by colleagues and business associates, but don’t stop there. It’s critical to build on that foundation by holding and expressing yourself in a complementary way.
In short, your attitude must harmonise with the way you contribute to discussions. It’s not exaggerating to say that the ability to communicate directly, to express yourself clearly and succinctly, is a priceless asset in the business world.
Women need to learn from their male colleagues how to make their points without apologising, and to ensure their voice is heard early on so it forms part of the discussion and, hopefully, the final conclusion. Too often, women hang back and risk being sidelined. Women who cannot communicate their message in a way that ensures it is heard find themselves not being taken seriously as decision-makers, even though they may be seen positively as mediators or supporters.
One could call this the “likeability conundrum”, and it’s something most women have to wrestle with. The bottom line: being direct and firm doesn’t mean you are unlikeable or pushy, just that you have something to say!
The pandemic hurled us all—some kicking and screaming—into the digital world. It seems likely that digital platforms will continue to play an important role in business life going forward, and thus women must not ignore the dos and don’ts of creating an effective online presence that complements their personal brand. For more on this topic, read my previous blog “Top tips for growing your personal brand online”.
Creating the right first impression creates the solid foundation your personal brand needs to do its magic.
In my next blog, we’ll explore the essential work that needs to be done to enable you to make a powerful, effective first impression.