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First Impressions Count

Last updated July 23, 2013

Our first impressions of people we meet really count in business – those first few seconds can make or break a future business relationship. We are continually assessing and judging the people that we meet; and not just on what they say. I recently met a businesswoman for the first time, in fact she is in PR, and so you would've thought she understood about:

1. Personal branding and values

2. Importance of appearance

3. Content – not only what you say but how you say it

4. Message – body language

5. Engagement

6. Mutual interests

7. Impact and intent

Sadly no. It was so disappointing that within two minutes she had started to complain to me how little she earns from her clients and how long it took them to pay her. She managed to ask what I do and then asked what my fees were. When I told her she did that big fish mouth impression!

Hardly the best way to impress a possible new client – in fact I have been on the lookout for good PR people to help some of my clients. From the second we were introduced I had decided never to hire or recommend her. Why?

1. Her appearance. It wasn’t what she was wearing but the state of it – it hadn't seen an iron or possibly not even a washing machine for a while. Rather more like the dog had probably slept on her dress. The whole ensemble was cheap, unloved and thrown together. I wondered if her writing and PR was the same….

2. Personal hygiene. A little suspect too, chipped nail polish, hair was the ‘hedge backwards’ rather than the windswept look. Definitely no attention to detail –would my press releases receive the same care?

3. Complaining about her clients equals no respect or professional integrity in my book. I wonder what she would say about me behind my back?

4. Texting while talking to me equals rudeness and a lack of sincerity. I certainly wasn’t her number priority at that moment?

5. Seeking a better opportunity. Perhaps she had realised that she had ‘lost me’ because she soon started looking over my shoulder no doubt seeking another victim, oops potential client! How many facts or snippets of information did she miss because she wasn’t paying attention?

And guess what she was a little ‘hurt’ because I declined her offer to meet for a coffee ‘to see how we could work together’. No doubt it was her way of asking ‘what clients could I refer to her’.

Why did I decline a coffee? Because my professional reputation is more important to me than spending my time having a coffee (that I would no doubt be expected to buy) with someone that I did not respect and did not want to work with.  And one final point, the LinkedIn request I received was given the ‘ignore’ click.

The moral of the story is that whilst the words that we speak, or in fact the ones that we write are important, our actions or lack of them speak even louder.

What do you say about your brand? 

shirley-mansfield-CoachSME
Shirley Mansfield
Master Business Problem Solver

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