I wrote this chapter on a plane from South Africa to Ghana. I had just looked into the in-flight shopping catalogue and one of the items for sale was a $40 five set cuff links. Beside the picture of the cuff links were these words: “First impression counts, so it’s important to look your suave, dashing best.”
Those words reminded me of a lesson I had learnt from a book I had read some years back and how that lesson has served me well over the years. I cannot remember which book it was, nor the exact wording of the phase that contained that wonderful lesson on first impressions, but it was something like this: “first impressions are not always right, but when a person does not know you, the only thing he has to guess what you are… is how you are dressed.”
I realised that it was important that the first impression that people have of me is positive because I may not have the chance to show them what I am behind the clean white and well pressed shirt I wear under my tailor cut suit.
Yet there are times I had wanted to wear something more casual and boyish but kicked against it, not because it was wrong, because even though for some occasions the attire was acceptable, the outfit just did not send out the right first impression which I knew I had to make.
If you are thinking of how to make best first impression, the rule I use is simple – if the CEO of my company wears a silk tie and full suit – that is what I am wearing. If he does not wear tie, like Sir Richard Branson, then I am not wearing a tie either. Knowing who you want to impress is the key to creating the right first impression.
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