How much do first impressions matter? So much that we cannot ignore them.

How quickly do we conquer our interlocutor with our image? In just 7 seconds.

Do you know that 90% of the information transmitted to our brain is visual and the images are processed 60,000 times faster in our brain than words?

Every day our image influences people around us whether it is private or professional life.

We are constantly in the spotlight and unconsciously judged by others.

And all this happens in just 7 seconds.

Whether it is a dinner with new friends, a first date, parent-teacher conferences, a business meeting or an interview, everything is put on the line in this very small amount of time.

In these few moments, the others get an idea about us and at the same time, we do the same with our interlocutor.

The fateful first impression arises in 7 seconds, but shouldn’t it correspond to reality, it will probably take seven months to dismantle it and make it clear to your interlocutor who you really are. Provided always that you are given time and faculty.

Meanwhile, it may happen that those you are seeing interact with you according to the opinion they have formed about you.

For example: if in a new working environment you seemed to be proud and haughty,  it is very likely that your colleagues, even if obliged to see you in the office, will avoid or ignore you in the corridors of the company,and will never invite you for an aperitif among colleagues.

You may wonder why for long.

Here a keyword gets into play: appearance.

Appearance does not have the same meaning as image.

It is – let us say – a more superficial adjective because it only relates to the outward appearance.

Image is the set of all the elements defining our Identity.

Today it is not only important to have a look congruent with ourselves, but it is vital that everything that concerns our inner being is in harmony with our image.

Our image is also linked to education, bon-ton, how we behave, our verbal and non-verbal communication skills and ultimately also to our cultural and social background.

It is therefore crucial that image and appearance are exactly the same thing.

To assess whether in your case the two things coincide, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I perceived as I would like to be?
  • Am I showing my talents?
  • Am I telling what I am doing?
  • Am I receiving any feedbacks congruent with my expectations?

If the answer is no or you cannot find any answer, maybe you should review all your Personal Branding.

And on a path of Personal Branding, the outward appearance has certainly a considerable weight.

If 90% of the information that we receive is related to appearance, then you cannot neglect all that has to make it positive.

To make a good impression, in the 7 seconds we have it is the details to make the difference.

What to wear? Is it in line with the occasion? Is it clean, ironed?

Are the accessories well combined? Are the shoes new and shiny or worn? Have you cut your hair, groomed your beard and manicured your hands?

All these questions define our habits, lifestyle, attention to ourselves and the world around us.

The second level of relationship is related to our way of communicating, moving in space, to our behavior. And there are precise indicators informing us aboutthe opinion the others have formed on us.

Are they smiling at us? Are they listening to us carefully? Are they looking at us in the eyes?

If so, we managed. We hit home!

Otherwise, after the first words, they will find any excuse to leave and if they are unable to do it, they will listen to you distractedly and indifferently.

The word constitutes the third level.

The first twelve words we say are the most important, the ones that define and ‘pigeonhole’ us.

Among these, there must be our keyword.

If you are a lawyer, your word might be ‘reliable’, if you are a hairdresser, it could be ‘skill’. To each his ownand all people should choose the one that really corresponds to their personal and professional identity.

My word for example is empathy. A suitable noun both in my private and professional life.

Today with the proliferation of social media, ‘managing’ the first impression is even harder because people decide who you are often from a profile picture.

That is why our picture should really be the mirror of our soul and not misleading. If this picture then represents us in different contexts – at the seaside or in the office –it is ok, but we must always be ourselves. We need to be recognizable.

We will have to be careful instead about the setting we are choosing for the social media on which weare going to publish it: it goes without saying that it is not the case to publish photos at the seaside or at a party on Linkedin since this one is a business-oriented platform.

On a path of Personal Branding, it is therefore essential to work hard on the outside appearance and if you cannot do it alone then it might be useful to rely on an expert -but above all neutral, objective –eye; the eye of an Image Consultant that helps you identify your image, your stylistic feature.

This work usually results in the perfect shot, the one that we proudly publish anywhere. But beware. It is not enough.

We need to harmonize shape – appearance – and substance: the image as a whole.

It is equally important to pay attention also to the content of our profiles.

Whether it is LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, therefore social media very different from one another, it will be up to you to find the common thread that characterizes you and makes you unique.

You need to handle the texts, the pictures and the network of people revolving around you. Even a comment on someone else’s post may become a dissonant element if it is not consistent with who you are and the identity you are promoting on the web.

Everything seems to be simple and fluid if it is read in an article, but believe me, it is not.

I myself, dealing with Image and Communication Consulting, have spent months to find my identity and to understand how to transfer it to the outside so that it could be really representative of who I am, as a person and as a professional.

Working on ourselves is certainly becoming more and more difficult and in fact, I have reliedin turn on some colleagues who could support me during this journey.

An external opinion, a suggestion of those who work on these issues on a daily basis is surely more reliable and objective.

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