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Personal Branding: Make the Right First Impression

Making a strong first impression is a big part of building your personal brand. Whether it’s a meeting with a client, a lunch with a potential business partner, or a sales pitch to a new prospect, the first impression you make goes a long way towards defining their perception of you. Today I’m going to cover some of my favorite tips for making a strong first impression. You’ve probably heard most of these before, and some of these may sound obvious—but we can all benefit from a reminder now and then.

1) Start with eye contact and a strong handshake. You want to convey a message of confidence upon meeting someone for the first time. Deliberately make eye contact and give them a strong handshake. This sets the tone for your relationship and lends credibility to the brand you’re seeking to build.

2) Use their name often. People love to hear their own name. When you’ve just met someone, use their name often in conversation. This makes your conversation feel more personal and increases the chance that you have their undivided attention while speaking. In addition, it will make it easier for you to remember their name the next time you meet.

3) Avoid sarcasm and offbeat humor. You may have a great sense of humor, but until you get to know your new acquaintance better it’s wise to stay away from anything but the most generic type of humor. The last thing you want is for them to fail to pick up on your sarcasm, or for them to be offended by a joke you tell. You’ll have plenty of time to utilize your sense of humor as your relationship grows.

4) Dress appropriately. Your outfit plays a major role in forming the first impression that you make. You don’t have to spend hours agonizing over what to wear—just make sure that you dress appropriately for the situation. A casual Saturday morning meeting with a group of colleagues doesn’t call for the same level of dress as a weekday meeting with a potential business partner. In addition, if there are certain colors that you want associated with your personal brand, take that into consideration. Don’t over think your wardrobe—but do make sure it’s not going to contradict the brand you are trying to build.

5) Listen. Everybody appreciates a good listener. Not only is it an appealing characteristic, but listening carefully allows you to get a better feel for your partner in conversation. You’ll also find yourself picking up on things you would have missed had you been talking every chance you got.

The first impression you make goes a long way towards establishing your personal brand. The impression you create is determined by a variety of details, many of which we covered above. Like many other things in life, the key is in managing the details. Pay attention to your dress, your speaking patterns, and your use of eye contact. Creating a strong first impression not only paves the way for you to establish your personal brand, but it also starts any new relationship off on the right foot.