Veteran author Roberta Matuson gives actionable tips on how women can make a long-lasting first impression, in and out of the office.
- When I walk into most work places, the first thing I notice is that everyone looks the same. Especially the women. You know what I mean. The women all look as if they've walked right out of a Forever 21 store. And that kind of look is fine if you're a young professional who's just landed her first job. But if you want people to take notice and to see you as executive material, you're going to need to step it up a few notches and it's going to take more than wardrobe.
I have a friend who is an executive at a major tech company. She dresses smartly and always wears heels. Everyone else is in jeans and sneakers. So let me tell you, when she walks in to the room, people take notice. But it's not just her looks that get her noticed. It's the confidence she exudes. She approaches people with a firm handshake and a warm smile which makes a great impression. Another way to make a long lasting impression is with good manners.
Manners these days aren't quite what they used to be which is actually a good thing for those of you who understand etiquette. When you're being introduced or greeting someone, stand up and offer a firm handshake. When you first meet someone, being considerate of people's time can go a long way in setting up great relationships. The opposite is true as well. As bad manners can quickly wipe out a great first impression. I recently met a woman that I was going to be coaching and in the middle of our hello's, her cellphone rang.
Much to my surprise, she answered it. I surmised that if she was doing that to me, she was certainly doing that to others. Now, I get that having a phone in your hand these days it's like wearing a ring. After a while, you forget it's there. But I pointed out how I perceive this behavior and she hasn't done this to me since. And hopefully, she stopped doing it to others as well. Another way to demonstrate executive presence is to make eye contact.
Great eye contact is so important. It signals to the other person, you're really interested in what they have to say. For many, this isn't so easy. Especially when someone isn't all that comfortable going to events where they don't know anyone. Here's a trick I learned many years ago. Instead of looking someone right in the eye when speaking to them, look at their forehead. They'll never know, you're really not going eye to eye with them. And who can forget a warm smile? Facial expressions are very important when it comes to making a good first impression.
Remember, you only have a millisecond to make a great first impression. Make sure you get noticed for the right reasons.
- What is executive presence?
- Common myths about executive presence
- Building your executive presence
- Making a long-lasting impression
- Selling your ideas to peers and the C-suite
- Promoting yourself
- Communicating with confidence
- Finding a sponsor or mentor
- Commanding a room