Being sized up only takes a second or two, so how do we guide that initial impression?
My degree is in Psychology so I naturally find this stuff really interesting, but even if that’s not your area of interest, if you run a business there is a reason why it’s important to you anyway and what you can do to help yourself.
The big questions
A team of three psychologists at Harvard Business School have been studying first impressions for more than 15 years and discovered an important pattern to these early interactions. Typically, people seek to answer two questions when they first meet you:
Can I respect this person?
Can I trust this person?
Psychologically speaking these would be classed as the attributes competence and warmth. Naturally you’ll need to be perceived to possess both for someone to consider working with you, but they’re not equally weighted.
The most important factor
Professor Amy Cuddy, part of the trio has published her book “Presence” which explores this in more detail, but in summary, she believes warmth is the more important factor in a professional setting despite most assuming it would be competence.
This isn’t surprising really as we’ve all heard the phrase “know, like and trust” bandied around a zillion times, not least of all by me! Professor Cuddy’s article explains why. From an evolutionary perspective, it was crucial to our survival to be able to decide quickly if we could trust someone.
To a lesser extent that’s still true today. Aligning ourselves or investing in services that do not serve us could harm our businesses, although arguably we don’t need to make that decision in a split second as we would if our mortal safety was in question. Nonetheless we need to share enough of ourselves to allow them to decide if they trust us. Failure to do so can close the door on a potential opportunity.
So how can we influence how others perceive us?
This is EXACTLY what personal branding is and why personal branding photography exists. We can tell our story visually which speaks to our innate need to understand if we can trust somebody. By helping our audience over the first hurdle of trust (warmth) we then create the time for them to assess the second most important factor, competence.
You need to allow your audience to get to know you
According to Cuddy, MBA interns often fall into the trap of being so focussed on demonstrating their intelligence that they don’t ask for help, attend social gatherings or give others the opportunity to get to know them, leaving them shocked when they don’t get the job.
This is why personal branding photography is such a large consideration in most business strategies now - we KNOW how vital it is that we allow our potential clients to get to know us. People buy from people and someone can’t buy from us if they don’t really “know” us.
Your story, both visual, written and verbal will be a giant jigsaw that combines your personality, values and of course skills.
We probably didn't need a team of Harvard Psychologists to tell us this, but sometimes we need permission to invest in ourselves, or in our business and if that’s you, well here it is! Now you just need to find the right personal branding photographer for you, so why not learn how to interview someone for the job here!
If you’d like to contact me to see how I can help you, please get in touch.