by Steve Adubato, PhD
On Saturday, January 12, I will be joining Suze Orman, Barbara Corcoran and a host of other presenters at the TD Bank / Star-Ledger “Road to Personal Wealth Financial Conference”.
The event was originally scheduled for November, but clearly Hurricane Sandy had other plans. My presentation is about making a “great first impression”, and like many other things in the world of business, Sandy has had an impact on this topic as well. I’ve been thinking about this hurricane as a metaphor for the kind of devastating setbacks we often experience in business and in life. It could be a bankruptcy, losing a major branch in your company, being laid off, or having your biggest client leave without notice. Or, it could be a personal “storm” that hits you hard, such as a divorce, the loss of a loved one, or an ill parent or child.
Whatever “storm” you face, it is still important that you make a strong and powerful first impression. In fact, making a positive first impression AFTER a difficult event actually presents an opportunity, if you choose to look at it that way. With an, “I can get through this”, mindset, consider the following:
- Everyone faces difficult times, even though some challenges are more difficult than others. However, it is important that the people you meet in business see a confidence in you that makes it clear that while you acknowledge your uphill fight, you are not even close to throwing in the towel. The first impression you make must communicate that you believe deeply that you and/or your business will get through this—even if you don’t have all of the details worked out. I know this is easier said than done, but if YOU don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect a prospective client or investor to believe in you?
- While it is important to grieve and acknowledge the pain of your situation, it is essential not to have ALL of your energy go in that direction. Some of the most impressive leaders and entrepreneurs have risen from the ashes of a devastating situation. The key here is to see the opportunity—the silver lining—in your circumstance. It is not as simple as the glass being half full, but it does challenge one to ask this critical question; “How can I take my situation and make the most of it?” Again, ensure your energy is moving in a positive direction, thinking about creative ways to rebuild, rebrand and rethink yourself and your business. This will make a GREAT first impression.
- Have a PLAN. Even if all the details of the plan are not in place, it is essential that you can communicate in clear, unambiguous language, where you plan to go and how you plan to get there. Many professionals and others who have experienced terrible setbacks often say they “hope things work out”. When it comes to making a positive first impression (in an effort to attract others to your business) remember this—HOPE IS NOT A PLAN. In fact, telling people that you “hope things work out” when recovering from a “storm” actually makes a pretty poor impression.
- Then what? After you make a good first impression, then what? Too many people confuse first impressions with simply having a nice smile and a firm handshake. Making a lasting first impression is largely about following up and following through. First impressions have a lot more to do with your actions AFTER you meet someone than anything else. If you say you are going to do something, do it. This final tip is relevant in good times or when the world of business is particularly stormy.