Every business owner knows how important first impressions are. But not all know that the “first impression” is actually only a 7 seconds window upon first meeting your potential investors or customers. That isn’t enough to talk about your background, charm your new contact, or make up for any initial blunders. You just don’t have the luxury of banking on a second meeting to clear up any misconception.
So, what can you do in 7 seconds to make a best first impression?
Making the most of an in-person meeting
Let’s start with the most traditional situation when making a first impression: meeting someone in person.
Dress and groom appropriately. People will judge you on your looks long before they judge your words or actions. After all, it only takes a fraction of a second to start making snap judgments. We all may wish there weren’t expectations placed on our appearance, and more so when we are attending professional events. But the reality is that they are; small things like hair and makeup can actually nudge people to see you as more influential.
Smile. It’s a psychological signal of altruism. When you smile at someone, it makes her more likely to trust you, and it makes you seem more approachable. Flashing a smile in those first seven seconds of meeting someone may be all it takes to forge a stronger first impression and connection.
Speak slowly and clearly. It’s okay to want to convey lots of information as quickly as possible to someone for the first time. The only problem is, it can be overwhelming to your listeners. Instead, speak slowly and clearly. It will make you seem more articulate and intelligent while giving your listener more time to digest what you’re saying. Additionally, it is also a sign of confidence, which is indispensable in making a good first impression.
Watch your posture. Strengthen your first impression by drawing your shoulders back and holding your head high. Not only will you seem more confident and powerful with other people, it may also increase your own feelings of confidence, giving you more power in your interactions.
Showcasing a storefront
And if you have a physical store or establishment, you’ll need a way to make a first impression with new customers and prospective customers who walk past your location.
Invested heavily in your business’s signage. This is often the first thing people will notice about your storefront. You’ll want to choose something creative and original, so you stand out from your competitors, but also something that falls closely in line with your brand.
Make cleanliness a priority. If the business owner doesn’t care, why should the customer? Any sign of disorganisation may turn your customers away, even if everything else about your offer is strong. Take the time organising and cleaning the outside of your shop as well by washing the windows, cleaning the sidewalk, and keeping your parking lot in order.
Work to catch people’s eye. Spend some time making your storefront more eye-catching, putting your best items on display in the window, or utilising structure and colour to make your store “pop” compared to the others on your street. Note what draws your eye in when you’re walking or driving by and try to replicate the details that fit your brand.
Presenting a website
If your business exists primarily in a digital environment, your website will be your main source of first impressions. Website visitors will only give you a few seconds — in fact, it’s not 7 seconds but it will take as little as 50 milliseconds to form an impression of your site.
Include photos and videos that evoke a feeling. While those 50 milliseconds may not be long enough to guarantee even a tagline will be read, you can convey emotions and the power of your brand through photos and videos. For example, you can showcase your business’s dedication to the environment by displaying photos of your team volunteering at a national park alongside pictures of the brand’s eco-friendly products. This both humanised the brand and underscored its commitment to a cause.
Make your website easy to use. A concise tagline or headline at the top of your site should let customers know exactly what they can expect from the rest of your content. New visitors should be able to instinctively know where to find your products and be able to navigate your website cleanly, without any hesitation. If they’re confused in the first few seconds, they’re going to leave. Investing in some usability testing can make a huge difference in the functionality of your site and the way prospects view you.
No matter how you’re forming a first impression, it’s important to work quickly to avoid facing the consequences of a negative or non-existent first impression. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll be. And the more you prepare for your future interactions, the more targeted your approach can be.