Interestingly, a first impression can be positive, without being exactly right for you.
Many people make a good first impression. They easily convert sales and, if they’re good at what they do, the opportunities around them start to expand. It’s that very expansion, however, that can be tricky. Your image must keep pace and be in alignment with your ongoing goals.
I recently asked a longtime client how he felt before we began working together. He said that at that time, he was confident in his ability to deliver what he offered to people—but knew he was in a significant growth phase that would lead to new arenas of opportunity. When he looked at himself and his image relative to the opportunities he was winning, it didn’t match up.
You can make a great first impression but if it isn’t congruent with what you’re trying to do, or sell, potential clients can sniff out that there’s something not totally adding up, even if they don’t know quite what it is.
Here’s a good example. I have a client in the legal industry who entered his career wearing Brooks Brothers suits. He became very successful, growing his business into a multimillion dollar company. His mission is to completely shake up the legal industry so that more lawyers can be happy in their personal lives while still growing a successful law firm. He felt confident and happy. His image had worked well for him up until a certain point. But by the time he came to me, he felt as if something was missing.
Brooks Brothers makes great clothes. But they are designed for someone who wants to feel more conservative and safe—the opposite of his personality. That was the part that didn’t match up. His vision is to help people do things very differently than what they have been programmed to do. He does this by teaching out-of-the-box concepts, and by being sort of an out-of-the-box individual. His Brooks Brothers image was far from out of the box. It was very in the box.
So we changed the way he was dressing. Since he is on a mission to shake up the legal industry, we shook up his wardrobe. We swapped boring plaid blazers for ones that were fun and full of personality. I found jeans for him that were comfortable, but also looked good on stage. And we found specific shoe designers that not only matched his out-of-the-box image, but became conversation starters with others who coveted the same brand.
You can make a good first impression all day long. But the real question is whether or not it drives the results you’re after. If the way you present yourself attracts a client base that will pay $5000 when you charge $50,000, you’ve got a mismatch that’s costing you money.
Each day you have a choice. You can put on garments that simply clothe you. Or you can be strategic about the way you dress and ensure your image will increase your bottom line. The goal for you is to easily present yourself in a way that helps you reach your goals, whether that’s a financial goal, lifestyle goal, or a connection goal.