Harvard Business School social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, has studied first impressions. “We’re judging how warm and trustworthy the person is, and that’s trying to answer the question, ‘What are this person’s intentions toward me?’ And we’re also asking ourselves, “How strong and competent is this person?’”

Her research shows that these two traits, trustworthiness and confidence, account for 80 to 90 percent of first impressions.   Why are first impressions so important? “First impressions matter when you want to build a lasting trust,”

Here are three psychological aspects regarding making a first impression especially at a business course, conference or networking event.

PRESENTATION – I need to be noticed because that gives me my power.
If you are feeling insecure and not grounded in self-confidence, you tend to be more concerned with how others see you.  To this end you may take one of three approaches

1.Over dress – overly stylish, attempting to make a fashion statement, too dressy or high fashion not warranted at a business-purposed gathering
The message – See me. Do I have your approval?

2.Under dress – arrive in too casual clothing – pants more suited to hiking, torn jeans, flip-flops or sandals, tee shirts, sweat shirts.
The message – Don’t see me, I am not sure I even belong here. I don’t have the confidence to be noticed for my expertise and value.

3. Inappropriate dress – showing too much skin, too short a skirt, tight pants, leggings worn as pants, too much cleavage.
The message – I don’t know how to dress for this event.

POISE – I am okay with myself.
When you feel relaxed and natural you automatically appear more confident and self-assured.  You don’t worry so much about what others think of you and you are not looking for anyone’s approval. You show respect by dressing appropriately and coming across as approachable with genuine interest in others.

Message – I approve of myself and show respect to you by looking and acting appropriately.

PRESENCE –  What can I contribute?
This is approach is not about “what’s in this for me?” but rather, how can I be of service to others.  That might look like engaging someone in a conversation who appears shy, offering to introduce someone to potential client or employer or approaching someone on the sidelines who does not look comfortable in being there and inviting him or her to come along with you and meet others.|

Message – I see you and would be happy to help you any way I can.

Remember:
If you don’t think how you present yourself matters, it does
If you don’t believe people notice, they do
If you don’t know that how you appear affects your reputation and competence, it will

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

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