Think big but remember first impressions

This week I was reminded about the importance of first impressions. As my 17 year old had a work interview and subsequent induction, I drilled into him the importance of the first impression – to look smart and well groomed, with a smile and firm handshake, look into their eyes and speak with confidence.

Whilst the job was for a party host at a trampoline park, it could have been the managing director as far as I’m concerned. You have to think big, set your sights high. Attitude and mindset make a massive difference. He reassured me he nailed it and I believe him.

External affairs is no different and the importance of maximising “every opportunity to see” your organisation is vital. Making the time and effort to really think through every eventuality is key. They call it the customer journey but I’m a simple type. Start by Googling your name. What may appear is your website, but do the words underneath your name really do you justice and sum up what you’re about?

That one sentence or “elevator pitch” should be succinct, punchy and persuasive. Once you have done the difficult task of creating it, it should then appear on everything – social media, printed items, digital channels, online resources, on every team members’ lips – and that again is not easy.

When carrying out such a task, I recommend one simple 3 letter word. It’s a word that as a child growing up over the years, I have annoyed many a family member and friend. It’s so frustrating because it makes you think about what you are saying. It’s been known to create silence, but I can guarantee, if you keep asking it, you’ll get to the holy grail, that perfect “reason for being” and USP that no one else has. And of course that word is WHY?

My experience of asking the WHY question of a relatively new management team at a recent visioning workshop sparked off an incredible debate that lasted well beyond the allocated time. And it went on for day’s afterwards. It related to what form of words to use, to describe what they do. It’s actually not easy but that’s why I do this job. The differences of opinion and passionate debate were all vital ingredients to the end result. I just need to externalise those messages now, which is the next challenge.

So remember, in a crowded market place, it takes a mere 7 seconds to make a first impression. Make it a good one.

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