by Paul M. Carhart
It’s been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I agree and would take it further. We all have multiple means of making a first impression and it’s impossible to know where the first point of contact will be. That’s why it’s best to have all avenues covered.
These methods could easily be used to promote a book, a business or yourself for a potential job. It doesn’t matter. The elements of a refined image are the same.
Your Personal Image
When you’re meeting people, you want to be clean. You want to be well dressed. Your hair should be trimmed and combed. You should be clean-shaven, beard trimmed or make-up applied (whichever is applicable). Your fingernails should be trimmed and clean. Deoderant? Yes, please. Studies have also shown that people discriminate against overweight people. So, If you struggle with your weight, start the diet and workout now. And take a mint or chew a piece of gum. Anyone’s lunch can come back to haunt them at an inopportune time.
Your Print Image
You may think you don’t need a print image. But trust me, you do. Everyone needs at least a business card. If you’re not a designer and you don’t want to pay to have a unique one created, you can access the ever-changing library of business cards (some are even free) at www.vistaprint.com. They’ll even set you up with additional matching print materials if you like. If you’re promoting yourself for a potential job, you’ll need a resume too. Whatever the case, you should always leave something behind after you’ve met someone, be it resume, company brochure or a business card.
Your Digital Image
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, it is essential that you have a presence on the Web. What form that presence takes depends on what it is you want to accomplish. Companies should have a website with a dedicated domain name. More budget-conscious folk can start a free blog at such places as e-blogger.com or set up a MySpace page. Make sure you populate your pages with content that is applicable to what you want to accomplish. Assume the people you most want to impress will read your pages and then tailor your content accordingly. If you’re looking for a job, don’t post on your blog about how you like to drink at work. If you’re presenting your company, don’t put up a page about your weekend tennis matches. Also, set up a suitable signature in your e-mail application complete with tagline relevant to your venture, your Instant Messager address, e-mail address, and mobile phone number. Now every time you send an e-mail, you’re spreading the word.
Your Mobile Image
Make sure to keep your mobile phone nearby. No one likes to get voice mail every single time they call. Still, make sure you only answer when you can actually talk. No one wants to try to carry on a conversation with you while you’re ordering at the drive-thru either. Like it or not, this makes catching your voice mail inevitable. Your answering message should be clear, concise and professional so when your callers can’t get you, they’ll feel reassured that their message will be addressed.
Follow-up is the key with any contact. If you’re organized, you’ll be easily able to chase down leads without losing them. Make an attempt to memorize names. One trick I use is to immediately associate a new person’s name with someone else I know who shares that name. Give it a shot. It always works for me. Believe me, nothing is more insulting than having someone call you by the wrong name. Just try it with your spouse next time you’re making love.
If you can recognize the importance of these elements and give them the proper attention, everything will come together. And when that happens, there can only be one word for the end result. Impressive.
Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date: paulcarhart.com.