First impressions – Maximising your personal brand

A firm Handshake speaks volumes about your personal brandWritten by Dave Cullen

Effectively using your personal brand is about learning to understand how best to engage with others in a way that makes you unique and memorable. The attitude and demeanour you present in your interactions with others in a professional setting, be it a job interview, client meeting or business event, defines your brand identity.

Because you don’t get a second chance to make the right first impression, how you conduct yourself in business will strongly influence your career. For example, at an interview or a networking event, when meeting people for the first time, always maintain solid eye contact. It is a sign of respect and demonstrates that you are listening to what they are saying. Furthermore, new research conducted in the United States, reveals that a firm handshake is also a powerful influencing factor at a job interview. Professor Greg Stewart of the University of Iowa led a study into the psychology behind the perfect handshake. 98 undergraduates were studied and their handshakes were rated based on the following five criteria, grip, strength, duration, vigor and eye contact while grasping hands.

The results revealed that participants who rated highly across all five areas were invariably considered more hireable. People don’t tend to consciously recall a person’s handshake but subliminally it provides us with an impression of a person’s personality.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that selling themselves through their personal brand is little more than boasting about their experience, achievements, talents and abilities. The truth is, a personal brand is something that a person should exude naturally and should be obvious from how they communicate. When meeting someone for the first time, make an effort to establish a rapport. Listening attentively to what they are saying and politely acknowledge their contribution. By becoming a better listener, you will learn to make a more valuable impression when it comes time for you to contribute to a discussion.

In a job interview scenario with two or more interviewers, always direct your full attention to the person who has just asked you a question. Give them your full attention and prioritise eye contact with them.

For more advice on how to develop your personal brand, be sure to check out the following blogs: How to Super Charge your Personal Brand and The Importance of Developing your Personal Brand.

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