The importance of image Featured

7:00pm EDT January 31, 2007
First impressions are everything. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and so is a first impression. Living in a high-tech, low-touch society, our face-to-face interaction is decreasing.

But despite our reliance on technology, it’s important that we not lose the basics of our relationship skills. We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard when it comes to dealing with people.

Here are some things we can do today to make sure that the first impression we make is a good one. 1. Send a letter instead of an e-mail after meeting someone new. This may feel like a hassle, but that person will take notice and know that you went the extra mile to make him or her feel important. 2. Be professional. It is very acceptable in today’s society to dress down or settle for basic etiquette. But first impressions are everything, and we should make the other person feel important. You also send a message about who you are with how you dress and behave. Make sure your appearance and actions send the right message. 3. Drive these ideals across your organization, from the top managers to the receptionist. Anyone in your organization who encounters anyone else represents you. As the leader of your company, you are responsible for the first impression being made on your behalf. Make sure it is the one that you want. 4. Reassure your customers. When dealing with new customers, it is important that they feel they made the right decision to do business with you. It is always helpful to send a thank you letter letting them know that you are aware of them and that you appreciate their business, regardless of the size of your company. I am not talking about a form letter that you stamp a signature onto, but a letter they know that you personally wrote and signed.

When you take the time to do the little things to make sure you and others within your company are making a good first impression, people will see you and your business in a better light. Their perception of your professionalism and level of service will increase, helping you gain new customers and keep old ones.

Be vigilant about these things, because you only get one chance to make a first impression. A blown opportunity to impress a potential new customer won’t come again.

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at fkoury@sbnonline.com or (800) 988-4726.