If I were to sum up what I do, I would say that I teach how effectively communicate with confidence and part of that is mastering the art of making a fabulous first impression! I have blogged about this previously and concluded that first impressions are crucial because we communicate so much about who we are visually and how we want to be treated.
Well, you can imagine how happy I was to read a great article from the Harvard Business Review all about first impressions. The article was written by Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
So, Jeffrey’s article is called, “Shape Perceptions of Your Work, Early and Often”. He wrote that “When it comes to job performance, be it in politics or in a company, perception becomes reality. This implies that you ought to manage your image and reputation as well as your actual work”. I found this intriguing, & he continues to say that “It’s important to get started early on this, because perceptions become self-sustaining. This happens, first, because people tend to assimilate new information in ways consistent with their initial perception.” (emphasis added)
Oh, Jeffrey, I love your work!
He’s attesting to something I shared in a previous teleseminar, that while most people accept the old adage about how it is difficult to overcome a negative first impression, I suggested it is also difficult to overcome a positive first impression – and that is a good thing! The example I gave was of the pulled together business owner that verbally shared things weren’t going so well for her, but no one believed her. Her image was so positive that the natural assumption was that she was successful and even her own verbal admission to the contrary couldn’t overcome that strong and powerful first impression!
Jeffrey elaborated that “Perceptions are also self-sustaining because, once people have formed an impression of another, they stop actively gathering new information.” (bold added) He says that “The old saw, then, that first impressions are lasting has real psychological basis. And the implication is clear: the MOST important time to focus on the image you are projecting is when you first enter an organization or a new job. That’s when people are going to be forming their judgments…”
I would like to add, it is also important when you first enter a room or first step on the stage. Jeffrey comments that the first impression is so strong that if bosses and colleagues form a negative first impression, it is easier to find a new job than try to change their minds. Very strong words! He says it is because “many people want to ‘prove’ that people are wrong about them…” but, it is an “uphill battle” and “why make heroic efforts to dig out of a hole when the same energy spent elsewhere could make you a star?”
My final comments about making an absolutely fabulous first impression has to do with why most people buy. This is very important if you present and make offers where you sell from the stage, or you guest speak in front of small groups as a way to generate new clients or even if you meet one-to-one across a desk or at networking events as a mode to build your business.
People buy on emotion and intuition and they rationalize it later.
Jeffrey wrapped up his article by suggesting that we “consider having an intentional, strategic, public relations strategy.” For me, I use the 6 Character Code system as a public relations campaign. It is fun, affordable and uses the most dynamic form of advertisement possible for your business, and that is YOU. As an added bonus, I predict you will be kinder to yourself and others after learning this system.
Question: Will you “manage your image and reputation as well as your actual work” and make that part of your marketing/public relations campaign as Jeffrey suggests for 2011?