First Impressions…

by Robin Ferrier on May 25, 2011

I recently read a story about a reporter who called a store seeking to speak to the business owner for an article. The person who answered the phone couldn’t be bothered to take a message, instead asking the reporter to just call back the next day. The reporter didn’t call back for that story… or any other after.

It made me think of a perhaps overused — but still extremely relevant — cliche: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

And in business, that first impression is key. When a new retail location pops up, you immediately get an impression of the store from its logo and window display. You decide whether to even spend your  time walking in to check out additional merchandise. When you go online to research a company, you get an immediate impression of the business by its website.

Or maybe even — gasp! and yes, this is an old school concept! — your first impression comes from the person who answers the phone or greets you when you walk in the door.

So my question to you is: Are you tending daily to the “first impression” that your business presents?

Maybe you work from home. Does that mean your spouse or children sometimes answer work calls for you? If so, are they presenting a professional appearance for your business? Or should your work (and cell) line be off-limits?

What about your online presence, be it a website or a Facebook page or a Twitter account? Is the information on the site up-to-date? Is it new, fresh, and relevant? Or is it stale?

There’s nothing worse than having someone come to your business’s homepage to find a listing of already-occurred events or old press releases and media coverage. (In the interest of full disclosure: You’ll find that exact problem on my organization’s homepage right now. I’m fervently working on a website redesign/update that will automate much of the homepage content to a point where out-of-date will be less of an issue. But I’ll still have to monitor and update it regardless of how much is automated…)

Have you ensured your “personal” social media accounts are as professional as your company’s? Because let’s face it, in this day and  age, you never know how new business might find you!

And you don’t want to scare them off before you’ve even had a conversation because of what they find online.

Like it or not, a first impression can make or break a new business relationship before the relationship is even formed. So you’d better be tending to it!

Some additional resources on this topic:

More from Women Grow Business:

Image: Leonard John Matthews via Flickr, Creative Commons

Robin Ferrier is Communications Manager for the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. She is also the immediate past president of the Capital Communicators Group, chair of the PR Committee for the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and chair of the Marketing & PR Committee for Leadership Montgomery. She has inadvertently become a frequent career / professional / job hunt resource for friends and colleagues due to a career path that has included five jobs in 12 years.

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