A long time ago a coach told me, “You only get one chance to make a first impression!” At the time, I believed the phrase applied only to athletics. However, as my eyesight declined, I discovered it applied to every aspect of life, especially where my career and my business opportunities were concerned.
Making a first impression can be challenging for anyone. Yes, blindness or visual impairment compounds the issue, but we can control many of the factors which lead to a great first impression.
Preparation is the key. Get ready before you step foot into a job fair, a networking event, or even a sales presentation.
Use these tips to make your first impression.
Get a headstart by trying on your power outfit. Does it fit? Is it in good shape?
If you are like me, ask someone with good eyesight to help. I suggest putting on the entire outfit with the matching accessories. Walk around the house. Sit down in a chair. Get comfortable with the way the clothes feel as you do these things. If it feels uncomfortable, it may be time to upgrade.
Take time to get it cleaned and pressed. Then, set it aside in a safe place for the big day. You may want to organize and label clothing as your wardrobe expands.
There have been times when I feel like I walked a mile from the parking lot to a conference room. Made a turn or two down the wrong hallway and upon entering the room felt totally frustrated and embarrassed. My face reflected the emotions I felt. Do you think that looks attractive to others?
I practice smiling. That’s right. I practice it. Why? Because smiling helps me stay positive and helps me feel confident. It puts others at ease too.
It is said smiling is contagious. Why not infect the others around you?
Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a brief, about a minute, speech you tell about yourself or your business. Use it to persuade or inform the people you meet. It is a handy conversation starter when you attend job fairs and networking events.
Adapt the elements of an elevator pitch to your situation. After you introduce yourself, be sure to briefly mention your education and work or volunteer experience and your top one or two related accomplishments. Leave room at the end of your pitch to inquire about opportunities or job leads.
Write out or type your pitch. Practice speaking it until it flows from you naturally. You will be ready to use it when the time comes.
Your Follow Up
Be prepared to capture important information about the people you meet. Smartphones make it easier to create and store contacts and notes. Find what assistive technology works best for you and learn how to use it effectively.
At times, I have asked for a person’s business card. The question may draw funny looks, but my OCR system is a big help when I get back to the office.
Now, for the most important part of creating and storing a contact.
Make the connection. Send e-mails or make phone calls to the people you meet. Be assertive. Remind them how you met. Thank them for speaking with you. Ask them to remember you if an opportunity develops. Remember professional courtesy is important at all times.
Building a social network of connections could lead to more opportunities; that is what we are seeking as blind and visually impaired people.
Get out there and make a first impression to remember!