Following on from my recent article about how to shine in interviews, here are more great ways to improve your personal impact and leave an impression – whether it’s with one new contact, or a room full of people waiting to hear your opinion.
When we’re in business, we’re always on duty. I’m guilty of forgetting this occasionally and thinking my client will understand if I turn up to a meeting with a little of my son’s breakfast decorating my shirt. I’m lucky that the majority of my clients are also working mothers, but I wouldn’t ever recommend that they went to a meeting looking any less than fabulous, tailored and professional.
- Fake it until you make it
I recently admitted to a networking group that the first group meeting I attended was on the first day in my new business. I stood before 30 professional women and gave a minute’s presentation about my successful business, with confidence and chutzpah. My business had been in existence for 3 hours and I hadn’t yet had a paying client.
I firmly believe that if you build it, they will come (see Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams). I had to start somewhere, and going to a scary networking meeting on day one seemed like a good place to start in my new venture. Just by stating my new goals and talking about my skills, I started to build up confidence.
This tip works well in my personal life too. If I look in the mirror and my internal voice is telling me I look fat and ugly, I will spend the day repelling all social interactions. If I spend five minutes putting a bit of makeup on, regardless how crappy I feel, and change my internal monologue to a more positive one, I can lift up my head, make eye contact with people and have a much happier day, filled with lovely interactions. Try it!
- Wonder Woman pose
In my previous post I talked about standing firm with your toes planted firmly into the ground. Wonder Woman pose takes this to the next level. If you have an important meeting ahead of you, or you’re just about to walk into a room full of strangers and want to have an impact, try this first in the loo, preferably in front of a mirror.
Stand with your feet hip width apart; plant your hands firmly on your waist; push your chest out and shoulders back; thrust your pelvis out; chin up. Now smile. You’re WONDER WOMAN and you can take on the world. Stand in this pose for a minute. Your testosterone is rising and your cortisol – the stress hormone – is diminishing. Feel how your confidence has just taken a massive leap forward.[NOTE: Don’t do this if other people are watching. It will have the opposite effect!]
- Have the courage of your convictions
Using words like ‘I think’ and ‘I believe’ diminish your authority. It makes you sound uncertain of your opinion. Be bold. Your audience may not agree, but they will admire your conviction.
- Confidence wins over experience
As a recruitment consultant I can assure you that the candidate who gets the job is the one who is confident, warm, a pleasure to talk to and interesting. The candidate who is obviously nervous, monosyllabic or dull will walk away with nothing, even if she has more experience and letters after her name.
- Be an active listener
Prove that you’re listening, people will remember you for it. This means not interrupting, maintaining eye contact and really focusing on what you’re hearing. The best way to prove that you’re listening and have understood is to rephrase what you’ve heard in your own words. It might sound corny, but everyone loves validation and that’s one great way to give it.
- Be a mirror
Practitioners of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) are big fans of mirroring. If you’re having an intense conversation and feel a connection with someone, chances are you’ll be mirroring their body language without even realising it. You’ll both have your legs and hands in a similar position to each other. If you’re feeling uncomfortable in a social situation, the best way to build rapport is to mimic the stance and body language of the other person.[NOTE: don’t take this one too far – you’ll come across as a stalker.]
- Help people
We can all become very self-centred in business, treating each interaction as a potential new client or source of information. Try turning this on its head. Just ask people how you might be able to help them in their business. Most people are both surprised and delighted by this question and it will open up a whole new world of conversation, as well as making you memorable and likeable.