You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Nthenya Macharia, a certified image consultant and etiquette master, gave an eye-opening session on the ABCs of image at the Personal Branding for Success session organised by the Standard Group Women’s Network.
When you’re going to interact with people you need to consider which generation and culture they come from. Nthenya explained that this will help you know how to present yourself and how to act around those people.
“People make a judgement about you 55% based on how you look, 38% based on the tone of your voice,” Nthenya said.
Impressions are made every single day. Nthenya gave ABC tips on how to create a good image:
This refers to the external look of something, you and I in this case. It’s also known as image. “People give money to people who look like they have money.” Nthenya said.
Image refers to how you carry yourself, gait, physical appearance (looking awake and energetic even though you’re exhausted) and what you wear.
When it comes to clothes, different colours mean different things. The choice of outfit also plays a big role in the impression you want to make. Thus, it’s important to know what message your outfit of choice sends. Dress for the event you’re attending.
Good grooming, hair and nails, also plays a big role in how people relate with you.
“Your body speaks louder than your words,” Nthenya said. “Know what your body is saying even when you’re not saying anything.”
She added that you should always consider the body language of the people around you.
Consider how you greet people, your handshake and salutation. Remember to look at people in the face when you greet them.
For business cards, have them in a business card holder. When you meet new people, interact with them first, make an impression. Once you’ve struck a rapport, ask them if you can give them your card. Avoid giving out your cards haphazardly otherwise they will forget you. If you can’t pronounce someone’s name, ask them how to pronounce it or for a simpler name. Ensure contact information on the card is correct.
When it comes to food, know the etiquette required at the time. What is expected of you at a cocktail is not the same as what is expected of you at a buffet lunch. Place settings at the dinner table can be confusing. When faced with multiple spoons, forks, knives, plates and glasses, if you’re unsure ask or watch your host.
How you talk to people, be they clients, bosses, colleagues or subordinates matters a lot. Ask people how they’re doing. Send polite emails ending with ‘Kind Regards’ or ‘Best Wishes’. When you need something, ask politely.
In the workplace acknowledge those people whose service passes unnoticed. Say hello to the security guard, ask him how his day is going, for example.
“It will not kill you to be kind,” Nthenya advised.
Use social media responsibly. In today’s world, the first thing people do when they meet you is to Google you. Therefore, as you use social media ask yourself what you want them to find.
Avoid stalking your old mates and comparing your life to theirs. Use the internet to expand your brand. Become an expert and get your name out there.
The image you present to the world will go a long way in improving your brand and pushing you closer to your goals.