First impressions are critical.  They are key in establishing any important relationship and vital in building a successful business.  It takes only 3 seconds to form an impression and what makes it so critical is that first impressions tend to stick.  Right or wrong, we all do it and most of our judgments are made at a sub-conscience level. Terri Shinners of Look Sharp, Feel Great (LookSharpFeelGreat.com), teaches that there are 4 key areas we size people up in making a first impression:

1) Colors – Do they blend well? Are they complimentary?

2) Professional Appearance – Do you look professional or more “Blue-Collar”

3) Competence / Education level – How do you speak? What is your level of sophistication?

4) Social strata / Income level – Where do you fit economically? Lower, Middle or upper class?

Terri continues to teach that in business, we need to send the right “message” to our ideal client and then step our image up just one step higher.  If you are in a blue-collar business, wear the blue collar but have the shirt professionally monogrammed to indicate your professional status in comparison to your competition. If you are trying to attract professionals, you need to dress as you would if you were on a job interview trying to land that position you are marketing to.

In addition to everything else, an attractive smile is very important.  Terry says; “smile with your eyes”.  People are attracted to positive, inviting personalities.  A magnetic & authentic smile will make huge difference.

If you have a retail location or office, what is the first impression people receive?  If you have a website, what does it “say” about you and your business?  There are so many elements in creating a positive impression; business cards, letterhead, brochures, even the car you drive can add or detract from the image you are trying to convey.  Be proactive and manage your image (your brand) to ensure you are creating a best first impression possible. If possible, get an unbiased outside opinion about what they “see” about the image you are putting out in the market place.  Hire an image consultant who can help you spiff up your image.  I recommend Terri Shinners, who has experience in image consulting and does a great job at it.  Find her at LookSharpFeelGreat.com.

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