You are making an impression, whether good, bad, or indifferent, when you:
1. Introduce yourself to others.
2. Write an email (often, an email is the very first impression you make!)
3. Walk into a room.
4. Use social media.
5. Go anywhere, communicate with anyone, anytime.
So, why not make a determined effort to give people the impression that you want to leave in their minds? You have the choice to determine what people think of you. I’m not talking about image. Rather, it is a lasting value or memory that you can help shape.
What are some lasting results from spending time working on these concepts? You may feel more confident. You may be freed up to concentrate on your job. People may be able to focus more on your talents and skills than on your need to improve.
Although difficult to define what looks appropriate for different situations, or what looks right for a job, there are very inexpensive, first-level concepts that you can address instantly. Be a notice, an observer. (how do successful people in your target area appear?). Buy a full-length mirror. Alter clothes for a good fit. Don’t avoid trends, but don’t embrace them forever. Self-assess often. And, finally, when in doubt, use the Next Level idea: if you are not sure what to wear in a particular situation, go one more level up!
Have you ever sat in front of a full-length mirror and eaten a meal to see how you look? What would you discover? Again, be a noticer. Do some research online (some companies subscribe to a global etiquette site for their employees!). Practice with friends at a table. As I write this, a great friend is having a breakfast interview for a big job! Will his tie go into his oatmeal? Will he literally wind up with egg on his face? He has practiced, and it will pay off, with results that his comfort level improves, then his interview improves, and he gets the job!
Just the basics:
1. Change subject line to reflect the content, even in a back-and-forth email to one person.
2. Don’t email if you can walk to the next office to say the same thing.
3. Double-space between topics.
4. Keep it short.
5. It is a tool, not the “end-all” to communication.
Practice! Practice before the situations arise that could be awkward or uncomfortable.
Here are three: 1. Introduce yourself to a senior leader; 2. Introduce yourself at an interdepartmental meeting. 3. Introduce yourself to a client.
Keep it to 30 seconds, be cheerful, be succinct, and be sincere. Speak about a future meeting, a project you are working on, or an idea that you would like to discuss further. Use the time wisely.
You are the sum of your education, developed skills, and natural abilities. Perfecting these soft skills will reap great rewards!