Friday, July 30, 2010

Marketing Mishaps: Making a Poor First Impression

Marketing Mishaps: Making a Poor First Impression

Anyone who knows Donna Tucker of Career Pros Résumé Center is familiar with her tagline: You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. We've been hearing this message for years, yet it's surprising how many entrepreneurs fail to understand all of the things that can negatively affect this first impression.

Hygiene is important. That should go without saying. But every time something should go without saying, it seems all the more imperative that it be said. Make sure your hair is combed, teeth are brushed, and that you've had a shower recently. My friend Karen Langston, nutritionist extraordinaire known as The Extreme Food Whisperer, recently told me a story about a guy she met at a networking event:

"He came up to me and he just reeked. Smelled like he'd just smoked 100 cigarettes in his car with all the windows rolled up. To be honest, I don't even remember what he said he does because I was so distracted by the smell. He was talking, and the whole time, I was thinking to myself, 'I wonder what his house smells like. I wonder if he has a girlfriend. I wonder what his lungs look like.' I literally could not wait to get away from this guy."

I'm  not a smoker, and I'm making no judgment about smokers here. I'm simply offering a word of caution: you are so used to the smell that you probably don't notice it anymore. That doesn't mean that everyone else is equally immune.

And speaking of smells, another thing I come across quite often is the perfume/cologne bather. Folks, sometimes less truly is more. When you walk through a crowded restaurant or conference room and your scent trails after you like an ocean wake, you are not making a good impression - regardless of whether it's a classic like Chanel #5 or a store-brand knockoff of Jean Naté. For one thing, olfactory allergies and sensitivities are more common than you may realize. But sometimes, you don't even have to be allergic to find the over-scenting overbearing.

Speaker trainer to the stars (e.g., Oprah, Barbara Walters, Bill Gates), Joel Bauer offers this singular piece of advice about making a good first impression: "Make sure you wrap your package." In other words, dress the part of the successful individual. Ladies, this means that you always wear a jacket or outer shirt. Gentlemen, at the very least, a collared shirt. In Arizona, we've come to accept business casual, so ties are rare - but you certainly will stand out (most likely in a good way) if you wear one.

Things not to wear: flip-flops, t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, short skirts (hint: if you have to keep pulling at it as you walk, it's too short); tops that overemphasize your décolletage. The only exception is if you have a REASON to wear something outlandish or unusual. Personal trainers who wear workout clothes to networking events make sense to me. 

Lastly, pay attention to the way you introduce yourself to new people. At a large networking event where lots of people are circulating, look for entry with either (a) someone you already know, (b) people who are alone ("Hello" is usually all the opening you need), or (c) a group with an open posture that appears inviting. Definitely avoid crashing a conversation between two people - even if you very badly want to meet or speak to one of them. It's perfectly fine to wait patiently a few feet away - but don't hover or hang about looking overanxious. The last thing you want to do on your first meeting with someone is be remembered as the guy or gal who interrupted a very important conversation.

This is Day 10 in the 60-Day Content Challenge. See you tomorrow for the next post!


Sign up today for Laura's next workshop, Want to Charge More? Start Writing! Or e-mail your  questions on any aspect of marketing or the client cycle - to Laura.

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