Does your personal brand leave a strong first impression? Whether you are interviewing for a job, meeting potential clients and partners at a networking event, or even commenting on someone’s blog, how you use your brand to say “hello” and engage others will provide the differentiation you need to stand out.
The first impression you make goes a long way towards defining how others perceive you, and remember, we don’t get a second chance to make a first impression! Here are three ways to leave that strong first impression both online and offline.
1. Maintain eye contact
In the real world we need to look people in the eye at first meeting and maintain good eye contact throughout the discussion. Especially at a networking event, once you are engaged in a chat don’t let your eyes wander towards the person at the other end of the room you really want to be talking with. Keep your focus on the person in front of you until you find a polite way to move on.
We maintain eye contact in the virtual world with our professional head shot – one that has a full view of your face, eyes, and smile! Use Gravatar to link your head shot to the avatar that shows up when you comment on other’s blog. And don’t be an “egg head” on Twitter! Nobody wants to engage with an egg or a silhouette image.
2. Seek first to understand…
…rather than to be undersood! Too often we get caught up with proving our brand to others by boasting about our credentials, experience, ability, and skills. Our personal brands speak for themselves, so let your brand do the talking! When meeting people, be the first to ask questions and find a common ground. Listen actively to what others have to say by acknowledging their input and responding sincerely.
Even in the virtual world we need to be listeners. Social media channels are a wealth of insight, ideas, and thought leadership. Use an 80/20 rule – maximize 80% of your time as a listener and 20% as a talker. By following this rule, the contribution you eventually make will give off an impression of value to your target audience.
3. Use people’s names and personalize your connections
What’s in a name? EVERYTHING! People like to hear their own names so make an extra effort to use someone’s names in every interaction. After leaving a chat, thank the other person for their time – “It’s been great talking with you Peter.” When commenting on a blog use the person’s name and recognize their contribution before giving your comment – “Thank you Peter for this great post. I really agree with what you said about… I often feel that…,”.
A great way to personalize your request is to avoid the standard canned request when connecting with others on LinkedIn. By making your request personal it will demonstrate your sincere interest in connecting with that specific person rather than simply increasing the number of connections you have.
Do you have any tips to make a first impression? Please share in your comments.