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Personal Branding: Confidence is Key to Making a Great First Impression

Creating a strong first impression is important when it comes to creating a strong personal brand. The first impression you give sticks in the mind of the people you meet—for better or for worse. And one of the most important things you can do to create a powerful first impression is to project confidence.

But this is often easier said than done. I have worked with plenty of business owners who struggled to project confidence—even though they were very successful and highly intelligent individuals. Here’s a secret: you don’t have to actually be confident to project confidence. And oddly enough, training yourself to project confidence even when you don’t feel it will often help you become more confident. (You’ve heard the expression “fake it ‘til you make it.”)

As somebody who often speaks in front of large audiences and interacts with world-class entertainers and business leaders, I’ve had to develop my sense of confidence as well. And to help you make the same journey, I’d like to share three tips to help you project confidence so that you can make a stronger first impression and create a more powerful personal brand:

1) Turn off your “internal critic.” We all have our own personal internal critic… he (or she) lives in our head. The internal critic is quick to point out flaws and criticize plans. “They won’t take you seriously.” “They’ll think you’re an idiot.” “YOU could never pull that off.” The amazing thing is that the people you interact with are rarely (if ever) as critical of you as you are of yourself. So stop being your own worst critic.

2) Recognize your own expertise. You’re great at what you do. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be running a successful business. Take some time to think about what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve learned. Embrace the reality that you are great at what you do, and that others can benefit from your perspective. Of course, there’s a line between confidence and cockiness that you definitely don’t want to cross. Stay humble! You can be secure in your own abilities without being a show-off.

3) Use body language. Finally, use body language to convey confidence whether you feel it or not. Start with a strong handshake. Speak slowly and clearly. Look your conversation partners in the eye. Sit up straight, keep your shoulders straight. This is all review—but it’s easy to forget, and it’s important!

Confidence is key to creating a great first impression and to building a strong personal brand. If you’re not as confident as you should be, I hope that you’ll find these tips to be helpful. And remember, if you have to… fake it ‘til you make it!

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