They say you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their shoes. If someone is wearing a well-worn, but comfortable pair of shoes they might have a more care-free personality and might be entirely unconcerned with appearances. A carefully polished, spotless pair of shoes might indicate someone who pays a great deal of attention to details. Is someone’s true personality reflected in their shoes? Probably not, but shoes and the rest of one’s appearance certainly impact the first impression you get when you meet someone new. Conversely, details contribute to the first impression people get when they meet you.
We all like to think that we judge people on traits that are more important how well they take care of shoes, and most probably we do. In everyday matters, personality most likely overrides superficial details, but in the business world, interactions may be limited. First impressions carry greater weight and may make the difference between success and failure at a job interview, a sales call, or other important business meetings.
If you only have a few minutes of time with someone, it can be difficult or impossible to show the real you. Most candidates come in with a practiced and convincing smile, a confident handshake, and all the other stereotypical hallmarks of competence. Sometimes, there are clear differences between interviewees for a job, or between the sales pitches of competing companies, but when everyone is nearly equal, it can come down to little details that differentiate one from another. It might be something very noticeable, like an unusual haircut, or just a general impression that is left by a number of small details that are barely noticed in passing, such as a well-organized briefcase, a stylish pen, or a meticulous appearance that causes the decision-maker to choose one over the other.
Competition is tough these days; it’s more important than ever to use every opportunity to create a positive impression when you go to a job interview or a sales call. Once you’ve established a good business relationship, the important matters will take precedence, but unless you make a good first impression, you may never get the chance.