Olga Anderson - How Important is a First Impression?
Katie.Dix / 14 Sep 2021
How Important is a First Impression?
We all know that making a good first impression is vitally important in business, as potential partners and clients know that if you are poorly presented, you are unlikely to be a success in the world of the consumer. Dressing the part is therefore crucial in securing those initial moments of success.
The modern world has created a sense of fast and omnipresent business, meaning if a consumer dislikes your product or service, there will likely be thousands of alternatives to which they can quickly transfer. A first impression in business is therefore part of the marketing to the masses. With investors and other businesses all too aware of this, a first impression can truly shape how they view the future success of a company. Its importance has therefore never been higher.
Why So Important?
It is almost self-explanatory why a good first impression is so impactful. It immediately sets the tone for how your relationship with a particular person will develop. A good first impression is likely to allow someone to instill a sense of trust and confidence in you, meaning that a potential employer or client will be more likely to choose you over another candidate. By acting in the wrong way, even by just being tinged with arrogance, people can gauge whether they think you are a worthy cause of their attention.
Whilst personal relationships and friendships are allowed time to simmer and brew, decisions in the business world often require snap judgments. ‘Time is money’ and ‘money makes the world go round’ are idioms that spring to mind when thinking about how the business world is fast and often cruel; people are in it to line their pockets and will find their friends elsewhere. Therefore, whether it be an interview, a networking event, meeting with a potential client, or any other rendezvous, the immediacy of your impact will be felt and remembered. The long-term effects are influenced by a short-term judgment.
We all know that as humans we tend to trust our instincts about people, often following our gut even when we don’t realise we are doing it. These instincts kick in all over the place: when we are choosing between pairs of shoes, after a first date, or whether to bring an umbrella. It makes sense that businesspeople are no different when faced with a split decision between candidates.
How to Use Clothes to Our Advantage
Now we know why it’s so important, let’s get into how to make a good first impression. It sounds simple: confidence without arrogance. However, this is easier said than done, especially if we are nervous having not met people before. The best place to get started and to lay the foundations for a self-assured impression is therefore how we dress. This is something we can control and something we can plan, which can help reduce nerves and give stability in an otherwise unprecedented situation. Take time to curate a collection of outfits which project the image that you want to share with the world, doing all the experimenting beforehand. Clothes that fit nicely and speak for you as an individual, but also clothes so comfortable that you aren’t hyper-aware of their presence. Having and building a collection of go-to business outfits that you know are both special and professional means that over time you will build a wardrobe that you know will empower you, each day to the next.
The important thing to do is to tap into your own personality rather than attempting to build an entirely new persona. The thing that works best will always be you, whether this be deadly serious and extremely business-orientated, or more light-hearted and playful. Trying to fulfil a persona because you think it works better doesn’t make you a successful businesswoman, it makes you an actress. It is unlikely that you will put on an Oscar-worthy performance of somebody else, and thus it will be quite obvious to others when what they see before them is a façade. Instead, aim to represent who you are and what you take pride in. Other individuals will therefore be much more likely to spot the real positives that will influence a future relationship, and be far more inclined to work with somebody who is honest and genuine, even if you feel that you are a little rough around the edges.
As much as we can disregard clothing as superficial, when you truly understand the power of clothes, what we know is that it can be the representation of the truth when handled correctly. By avoiding the churned-out trends of fast fashion and trying to blend into the dreary backdrop of a board room, we can find clothes that make us feel great, even when we do have to go to work! We all know the feeling of finally slipping on those shoes that we had longed to have for so long, compared to the feeling of a stack of cheap clothing being delivered through our door in individual plastic sacks. Investing in pieces that make us feel great will transpire into a fantastic first impression, because we are as proud of our clothes as we should be of ourselves.
Olga Anderson is a bespoke and ready-to-wear womenswear designer. She specialises in clothing designed to empower her clients, and as of 2019, became a ‘Women Appreciating Women’ (WAW) Honorary Award winner. She runs her brand with the belief that “fashion and design should empower women”; working meticulously to encourage and celebrate women’s individuality, accomplishments and passion, both in and outside of their careers.
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