We are getting excited for our upcoming two-day Executive Presence Training Session in Toronto on September 18 and 19, and we hope you are too! In advance of our first-ever open enrollment workshop, on our blog we’ll feature topics covered in the training. Want to learn more after reading the blog? Enrollment for the full session is now open!
This week’s topic is First Impressions, which will launch Day One of the two-day training. First impressions happen constantly and instantaneously, but the effects are lasting – and are critical to developing your Executive Presence and building professional relationships. The initial minutes or even seconds of your first interaction with someone will influence how he or she perceives you in the future, so it is critical to master a great first impression.
In-Person First Impressions
The most influential and the majority of first impressions are face-to-face meetings. Many factors can affect this impression:
- Professional Appearance: Attire, accessories, hair and makeup
If your first impression is in an interview context, you should already be dressed in a suit or other formal attire that is appropriate for your industry. Not only does this include clothing, but also the choice of accessories – minimal and elegant is the objective here – and hair and makeup, which should be neat and tidy.Keep these tips in mind for other contexts where you might make new professional connections besides interviews, such as a networking event or a meeting with new contacts. Your clothing choices may vary based on the context, but above all you should look tidy, pressed and put-together.
- Body Language
Begin with a firm handshake, strong yet not overly forceful. A solid handshake will leave the impression that you are serious and confident.Make eye contact, during the handshake and throughout the conversation. Eye contact is key in demonstrating your interest in the other person and your engagement in the dialogue. If your eyes are wandering around the room, the person you are speaking with likely will assume that you are not interested and alert – at that moment, and possibly when you meet again later.Good posture can exude confidence and grace, which are important features of Executive Presence. Conversely, if you are slouching your shoulders or shifting your weight during a first impression, this could signify that you are apathetic, careless or self-conscious.Your facial expressions can help you to connect with your new contact and develop your professional relationship. A smile is welcoming and inviting, while a negative facial expression from the get-go can make an impression that you are unfriendly, thereby preventing or limiting the development of a professional relationship.
- Business Cards at the Ready
After a memorable first impression, ensure that you can continue to build a connection by giving your contact information in the form of a business card. Even the presentation of a business card can contribute positively to the first impression by showing that you are prepared to make lasting connections.
Digital First Impressions
Though fewer first impressions are made online, this number is growing with the development of professional social networking sites like LinkedIn, as well as business introductions made remotely from across the country or around the world.
- Your Social Media Profile
Ensure the best first impression on professional social media sites by setting your formal headshot as your profile picture. In addition, keep your public profile updated with your current job title, skills and work history. Add any professional development courses or new skills as you acquire them.
- Email Etiquette
Some introductions are made via email. To start off on the right foot, practice formal email etiquette, including an address with the appropriate title, using full and complete sentences (no shortened internet lingo), forgoing emoticons, and including a full and brand-appropriate email signature.
Have you missed these steps and created an awkward first impression? Need more tips on how to project authentic charisma? Our open-enrollment Executive Presence Training will cover these additional topics and more, and will develop the points above. Join us for the workshop – and we’ll see you on September 18th!