How important is first impression for freelancers?
Ivanka Trump may have an controversial father but hey, she is an entrepreneur and knows a thing or two about good image. She says:
“There’s a reason first impressions are so important. You subconsciously size up a person in the first few moments after meeting, based on how they treat you and the things they do — or don’t do. Whether you’re making a first impression in a job interview, or cementing an already existing perception, there’s an art to finding favour”.
It is indeed true that when you meet somebody, the first impression you make still plays a crucial role. We want to be nonchalant and as they Italians say, we like to think progressively – and probably rightly so – that “l’abito non fa il monaco” –> it is not the robe which makes a monk. Great in theory, but technically, if you have an important meeting or a job interview, especially for freelancers who run their own business, you want to make an impact, to impress, to be remembered – for all the right reasons, it goes without saying.
How do you achieve this? I’m not talking about only your clothes here.
There are several points you need to work on –and I’m not gonna lie… Dress code is my first element.
Dress code: you want to look a million dollars without spending a million dollars. Last week I met someone who was really impressed by my skirt (see it here) and thought it was a Dior piece – I wish! This is what you want to achieve: an effortless look, that makes you yourself yet makes you stand out and feel professional, appropriately suited for the event and still comfortable.
My go-to choice for events recently is normally out of one of these options:
– skirt and white shirt;
– skinny trousers, heels and blazer;
– dress with flats.
Body language: Stance, Tone of voice, Handshake, Smile. Body language is crucial. You may be very shy, and I understand it takes courage to come out of the shell, but hey, you need to be social. Make sure you know what to say, give a firm, convinced handshake, have your business cards ready and don’t speak too loud or too soft. Smile, ask and smile. Anecdotes are a good idea to break the ice so think of some and go prepared.
Rehearsed pitches, Typo-free presentations, Powerful self-intro: again, don’t be caught off guard – most of the time, you’ll be anyways so just not risk it. If you are presenting slides, there’s no such thing as checking too many times. Typos are extremely bad for your image – just as bad images and photos, poor visuals or unclear graphics are detrimental to your credibility. It’s true that not everyone has the same taste or visual sensibility but don’t you think clear fonts, 1-2 colours and non-blurred photos are a better way to channel that “I mean business” message?
Do your homework: if you’re meeting someone go prepared, read about the company, document yourself. It’s always good to speak the client or prospect’s language.
Practicality: I always carry a change of shoes. I know, some of you probably thought I was born with red lipstick and sky-high stilettos, but no, I’m not a robot or a dominatrix so I do need a break for the glamour 🙂 Jokes aside, I slip into ballerinas when I need to move fast or travel. Your practical secret can be anything else: if my feet hurt I cannot succeed in anything, so just choose whatever makes you more comfortable with any situation and you’ll be able to focus on the important things.