You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so getting it right the first time is paramount.
The key to making a good first impression is twofold – wear what you feel and look good in and secondly, think carefully about who you are meeting.
Regardless of who you are meeting, good grooming is critical – cleanliness, well presented hair, nails and shoes.
If you look as though you have just got out of bed you will not be taken seriously.
So let’s talk about the people you may be meeting, the banker, for example. My banker has never seen me in jeans (my preferred weekend look). Frankly, I doubt he ever will, as my meetings with him are about a serious matter – money. I need him to know that I am serious and that I expect his concern and attention.
This does not mean that we can’t have personal and friendly conversations – we do – as we have known each other for more than 10 years, but I simply prefer him to see me in business mode.
How should we appear to the investor? This is critical. Personally, I am just about to meet a prospective investor so I’ve given this considerable thought. I want him to see me as competent and committed and so I will dress accordingly – black business suit, white shirt, small but quality jewellery.
I will also be attentive to his presentation. He may be in jeans, but that’s okay as he holds the purse strings in this meeting and can present in any way he wants.
Of course, how he presents may tell me what type of investor he might be – laid back or “accountant style” who requires weekly updates.
What about our clients? How should we present to them? My rule here is to look as good as you can, but not necessarily the most expensive. The message an Armani suit can send is that your product or service is over-priced. Not the impression you want to give!
On the other hand, if we dress in cheap clothing we may look desperate. Think about your clients carefully and dress accordingly.
As a woman I learned a long time ago to wear dark colours which are very practical, to never wear low-cut tops (cleavage is for evening and best not for business evenings) and to always be smartly dressed.
Do not become a fashion addict; find a style that suits you, but also demonstrates that you have personal style and that you’re not a fashion victim. This shows that you are a leader rather than a follower, a fact that impresses everyone!
If dressing is not your expertise, please get advice from someone who dresses well and is willing to help. I see so many young women dressed for nightclubs at work. I am not sure what they are trying to achieve or in fact, how they are trying to achieve whatever that goal is.
Simply avoid fashion that is not business wise, that does not suit you. Get help, always look your best, even in the supermarket!