First impressions count – We all know this. Psychologically a first impression is the event when we first encounter someone and (almost instantly – It takes just one tenth of a second to do it ) form an impression of them. People judge everything about us, our lives, culture and importance. It can make or break a business sale, so how can we ensure we make the right first impression?
Be on Time
In this part of the world, it is ‘acceptable’ to be late. Actually to many people, it isn’t acceptable to be late, it is just an excuse for rudeness. It says to the other person that their time isn’t as worthy as yours. Is this is the impression that you want to give? There really is no reason to be late, or not to turn up to meetings at all. Phoning well in advance of meetings to say you may be late and providing a good reason will help ensure you don’t appear rude to people. Calling to cancel a meeting when 5 minutes before – or worse when you are meant to already be sat together – is plain rude to anyone from the west. What appears to be OK to some, isn’t OK to all and may make the difference in you getting that sale or not.
2. Don’t Smell
So this is a little harsh – Especially if you live outside of the Middle East, but living here it is not unusual to smell some rather foul odours which seep from peoples pores. If you want to avoid being thought of as smelly, take the time to wash properly and at the least, carry perfume/deodorant/aftershave to mask any nasty smells. As Claire Dudley, an HR Manager said when talking about how great one of her candidates was on paper and to talk to, “But, how can I employ someone in front of the house at a restaurant, showing people to their tables and leaving them with menus, when they smell bad… We wouldn’t get people ordering food. They would leave. Quickly!”
3. Dress Appropriately
Again, living in the Middle East means we tend to dress a little more conservatively and in some countries, we cover up completely. Wherever you are in the world, you need to dress according to the country that you are in.
If you are attending a meeting, scuffed shoes are a no-no. An old boss once told me that he didn’t hire someone for a sales job because of his scuffed shoes. When I pressed for a reason why, he said that the man in question was, “extremely polished in everything he said and his look. Then you look down to his feet and see old scuffed shoes. It made me question everything about him. If I am doing this so will our potential clients.”
Smiling is important. A warm confident smile will say a lot about you and welcome everyone who talks to you, leaving a great first impression of how nice and friendly you are. Just ensure that your smile reaches your eyes, otherwise, you will just look disingenuous.
5. Body Language
Be aware that people may read you to know you are lying. Use your body language to your advantage. Everyone wants to be friends with confident people – You need only to look at school playgrounds to see how the confident kids are the successful ones. Be confident and talk about what you know. Don’t fall into the trap of talking about things your don’t know.
6. Be interested in People
People love to talk about themselves. Sometimes though, I am tired and this occasionally makes small talk difficult. If I am too tired to talk, I dig deep so I don’t appear to be uninterested. I question, question, and question. Small talk isn’t difficult although lots of people find it painful for many different reasons. Mastering the art of small talk will help you massively when you attend networking events. It is worth it. Show an interest in people and people will take an interest in you. Who knows where that could lead…