Top 3 Ways to Leave a Strong First Impression

Does your personal brand leave a solid 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 toward 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 headshot – one that has a full view of your face, eyes, and smile!  Use Gravatar to link your headshot to the avatar that shows up when you comment on another’s blog. And don’t be an “egghead” on Twitter! Nobody wants to engage with an egg or a silhouette image.

2. Seek first to understand…

…rather than to be understood! Too often, we get caught up with proving our brand to others by boasting about our credentials, experience, ability, and skills. Our brands speak for themselves, so let your brand do the talking! When meeting people, be the first to ask questions and find 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 offer 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, your contribution 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 names, so make an extra effort to use someone’s name 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 commenting – “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 joining with that specific person rather than simply increasing the number of connections you have.

By Peter Sterlacci

Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer" and is one of 15 Master level Certified Personal Branding Strategists in the world. His company, BeYB, is introducing a leading global personal branding methodology to on-the-move careerists in Japan. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSterlacci