Many of us would like to ignore what we've heard about first impressions and be comfortable in the knowledge that people don't judge and our work in the future will speak for itself.
The problem with that thinking is it doesn't recognise the basic functionality of our brains.
So let's look at how the brain works and why first impressions, and indeed ongoing impressions can make or break our business, our pleasure and our ability to be successful in both.
Our brains are receiving so many 'bits' of information each second that we would just explode if we had to respond to them all. And there simply isn't time to. So how do we avoid becoming completely overwhelmed by the onslaught of colours, shapes, textures, sounds, smells and internal thoughts?
Well the answer is quite DIPI.
Our brain categorises things into what's critical and what's not. We prioritise by what's Dangerous, Interesting, Pleasurable and Important - DIPI. That's why in a room full of noise you'll still hear someone call your name, it's recognised as 'Important'.
What's interesting is anything that doesn't fit into DIPI won't draw our attention. So in any given situation there'll be parts that we don't really think about and therefore won't react to.
Now let's just quickly say that none of us are considering looking Dangerous to draw attention. Needless to say, that sends a negative message, not a positive one. Our instinct is to move away from danger, not to make a relationship with it, business or otherwise.
When you're networking or in group meetings have you noticed that the people receiving the most attention are the ones perceived as Interesting, Pleasurable and Important? Leaders who are interesting i.e. know things we don't; pleasurable i.e. we feel inspired being around them and Important i.e. who stand out from the crowd as influencers, draw our attention whilst the others we don't really think about and therefore don't react to.
As a professional in business, and even in your personal life if you're not considering how your visual image is capturing attention from our busy, busy brains then you may just end up being the one we don't really think about and therefore don't react to.
Remember, the goal is to stand out for the right reasons, not just stand out in a room. Bright colours, flashy clothes and styles that don't fit with your brand personality or business image won't bring people to you. They're more likely to be seen as a Danger because they don't fit in with our regular concepts.
Dress with a sense of influence, authority and approachability that is conducive to your service offerings and business branding. Then you can stop chasing new clients, hold your space and they will come to you.