How to Make a Good First Impression – Part 2 #fb

October 19, 2009

Now that you have answered the two questions from part 1 of this blog, (i.e., Do I like the way I look and present myself? And, Do I know what image I am projecting, and is it the image I want to project?), let’s talk about things you can do to be sure you are projecting a strong (and authentic) first impression:

Look at Yourself Objectively. This is arguably one of the most difficult practices to perfect. We each see ourselves a particular way and are often not aware of how others perceive us. Don’t they see us they way we see ourselves? Not necessarily so! Try a little experiment: Look at yourself in the mirror and imagine meeting yourself for the first time. What do you see first? Is that what you want someone to see when they first meet you? What do you see next? Continue evaluating your image. If you can’t be objective, ask a supportive friend or family member to help you out. Ask for all feedback to be given to you in a positive way (this is important).

Be Your Own Personal Valet. Good grooming is the mainstay of a positive impression. Your clothes don’t have to be expensive. Your style doesn’t have to be the most current and trendy, and you don’t have to be a waif to look good in your clothes. While cleanliness and good personal care are obvious, good grooming goes beyond that. Are your clothes in good repair (yes, that little stain is noticeable)? Are your nails neat, clean and chip-free? Are your shoes and other accoutrements in good condition? Are your clothes pilling or fraying? Do your clothes fit you properly? Don’t simply hope that others won’t notice if any of these things are awry. Chances are they will. Most people won’t say anything to you, however, they’ll just store it away for future reference. Don’t let this happen to you!

Be Discriminating. Weekends are weekends, and work is work, and never the twain shall meet. Unless you paint or clean houses for a living, work as an auto mechanic, or are employed in some other job that requires you to get dirty, if your weekend clothes are worn and comfy, then they should stay relegated to the weekends. Since the advent of business casual in the 1990’s the line between business apparel and weekend wear has been blurred with very mixed reviews and dubious results.

Dress for the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have. Show initiative, interest, and professionalism, and your efforts will be rewarded. Job opportunities and promotions have been lost because someone isn’t dressing the part. This happens more often than you’d think. Being aware of the impact you make gives you the advantage.

Go Back to School. Not everyone knows from birth how to dress themselves. Nor does everyone like to do it. That’s no excuse, however, not to learn. There are plenty of resources available for regular people, not just celebrities. Whether you engage the personal shopper at a department store (their services are free), hire an image consultant (worth the investment (which isn’t always as big as you’d think)), or take an adult education class, there are services available.

We all want people to appreciate us for who we are and not what we wear. In a perfect world, that would always be true. This is one area of life where ignorance is not bliss. What you don’t know can hurt you. Many people leave the house in the morning hoping others won’t notice what they are wearing, or that they didn’t style their hair, or that their nail polish needs to be refreshed. Worse, some people leave the house not having a clue that their clothes look worn and their hair needs to be combed in the back. These oversights can be distracting either to you or to those you meet or both. Don’t let this happen to you! While you can’t please everyone, the place to begin is with yourself. Liking the way you look boosts your self-esteem, bolsters your confidence, and draws people to you.

Overcoming a bad first impression, provided you’re even given the opportunity, is no small feat. In the long run, it’s just a whole lot easier to make sure your first impression is a good one, and awareness is the first step.

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