4 min read
Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.
It’s no secret that your startup is your baby and when it comes time to present it to the world, you want everyone to love it as much as you do.
However, unlike the first impressions of individual entrepreneurs, the first impression of a startup is more than just a firm handshake, an eye-catching outfit or an honest smile.
Rather, it is a fusion of several events and conversations taking place in unison over several months.
At the very beginning of your startup, you make an impression on everyone you meet, whether it be journalists, investors, industry influencers or the delivery man of Jimmy John who passes by every day. Each interaction you have represents your startup in one way or another.
As you head into this vital period of first impression, be sure to keep the following four tips in mind:
1. Wear your personality on your sleeve.
If you are going to a meeting or an important event, do not leave your personality at home. Venture capitalists and key decision makers mix with so many people, and after a while they all start to melt. This is why it is important to stand out with your words, your unique actions and style.
If you visit my company’s website, you will immediately notice that we embrace the quirk and enjoy working in partnership with other rebellious companies. Not only do we express this fact in the text, but we also show it in person. Whether it’s the Nickelodeon cartoon sweater from the 1990s, one of my employees still wears or the ET pin that I wear on my leather jacket, we make sure that our words, our actions and our appearances all contribute to the impression that we strive to do.
Related: 4 Ways to Make Yourself Memorable and Leave Good Impressions
2. Raise the person you are talking to.
Having someone think you are smart and charming is fine, but make them think you think he’s smart and charming, it’s even better. We all know someone who always finds a way to make us feel good about ourselves; it is a vital skill for entrepreneurs.
A great way to do this is simply to show interest in others. Remember their names, ask them about their backgrounds and explore their hobbies and passions. Doing this authentically will create a human connection, which, in my opinion, is the most powerful type of first impression that you and your business can make.
Related: 8 handshakes that make unforgettable first impressions
3. Learn to use your vulnerability.
Being strategically vulnerable is a surefire way to build an authentic relationship. Note that I add “strategic” because I am not suggesting that you share your deepest and darkest fears and secrets. On the contrary, share enough to show that you are a brave human who has weaknesses.
One of the best things you can do in a conversation is to make someone comfortable, respected and admired. By sharing your own vulnerabilities, you bridge the gap between “it’s just a business” and building a relationship. Most people prefer relationships, and I think you’d be surprised how much it can affect the business side of things.
4. Don’t forget your powerful pants.
Although the words, actions and style of a startup are all essential, they mean nothing if they are not accompanied by a good dose of confidence. For starters, it helps if you feel good about what you’re wearing. Put on your pants, scarf or sweater – anything that makes you feel like a million dollars. Also consider taking your best power pose in the mirror before a big event.
I have a pair of electric boots that I wear during the winter which always gives me the impression of being ready to conquer the day. Even for important phone calls, I will put on my boots (or a nice pair of dress shoes, depending on the circumstances) to boost my confidence.
Although it spans a period of time rather than a snapshot, the first impression of your startup weighs heavily on how you and the rest of your employees present yourself to everyone they meet.
The business world never sleeps. You never know who you will meet and you never know who knows this type of Jimmy John either.
It is worth preparing.
Related: 10 Ways to Give a First Impression