When building a personal brand, there are multiple ways of looking at things. First off, there’s the top-down view where you create big-picture branding strategies about how you want to be viewed by your industry. But what’s even more important is the micro-level view—i.e. how the individual people you interact with perceive your brand.
How to make a positive first impression
You’re told your entire life not to judge a book by its cover, yet it’s impossible to avoid. Biologically, humans are hardwired to make quick judgments as a way of identifying threats. If we weren’t capable of quickly evaluating stimuli based on logical deduction, physical appearance, and past experience, we would frequently find ourselves in dangerous situations.
The problem is that we don’t just make judgments in fight or flight scenarios. We actually form impressions on everyone we come into contact with—and those first impressions are hard to change once they become cemented in our minds.
As you build your personal brand, you need to be focused on how other individuals perceive you online, in business meetings, networking events, conferences, and one-on-one conversations. You only have one chance to establish a strong first impression and the following three tips will help:
Be confident in yourself
It sounds cliché, but you are what you believe you are. If you walk into a room and you feel inadequate, you’ll come across as weak, inferior, and defeated. On the other hand, if you walk into a room and feel like you belong, you’ll exude confidence and people will be drawn to you.
There are a lot of different factors that impact confidence, but one of the simplest things you can do is carry yourself more positively. For example, what you wear says something to those around you.
If a unique, vintage engagement ring makes you feel more confident than a basic ring, then, by all means, wear it. If a pair of glasses makes you feel stylish and astute, despite the fact that you can see just fine, wear a pair of glasses.
Your confidence will influence others’ perceptions.
Have an introductory statement ready
There’s no excuse for not being able to clearly introduce yourself and your personal brand when you meet someone for the first time. Fumbling through your words or providing an inadequate introduction will hurt your image and lead to missed opportunities.
A good introductory statement should last for 5 to 10 seconds and explain who you are, what you do, and why it’s important. An example would be, “Hi, I’m Pete Jones and I’m the CEO of a small startup that helps businesses increase online engagement with their customers.” This succinctly tells the other person what you do and opens up the door for them to ask more questions.
Be consistent in your interactions
Nothing harms a personal brand more than a lack of consistency. If you’re one person to a certain group of people and then adopt another personality and tone when you interact with a separate group of people, you’re watering down your image.
It’s imperative that you’re consistent throughout your interactions with different people. If you meet the same person three times in three different places, they shouldn’t see any deviance. Be cognizant of the need to be steady and stick to your core values.
Perception is everything
When it comes to personal branding, it doesn’t matter what you think. It’s all about how others perceive you. And while you can’t control anyone else’s thoughts, you can set yourself up for success by doing things that make your brand look good in their eyes.
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