Businesses have just seven seconds to make a good first impression – so if your clothing or your premises fail to make the grade, be prepared for the consequences. According to a study published in SAGE, human beings do indeed ‘judge a book by its cover’, feeling that outward appearance reveals reliable information about one’s inner character and abilities. If an important deal is in the works or you frequently receive clients in your office, make sure that the general message conveyed by your staff and premises alike is one of professionalism.
Defining Your Company’s Style
The standard outfit for a business meeting is a suit, but in reality, office dress codes depend greatly on your industry. For instance, a design firm seeking to exude innovation and cutting edge thinking can potentially admit more business casual, colorful clothing that breaks free of standard dress codes. If you are a new startup comprising young, forward-thinking staff, business casual may be sufficient enough to convey seriousness without losing out on the ethos that defines your team. Consider dress codes in companies offering similar services. Of course, regardless of the industry you are operating in, some items of clothing (including yoga bottoms, sandles, and midriff tips) should probably be avoided.
Interior Design Is Key
Your office interiors are at least as important as your staff’s clothing. Imagine you were an investor visiting a company that has proposed an agreement. If it had cracked paint, a broken ceiling, old equipment, would you have faith in them, enough to trust them with a major investment? Professionally cleaning and restoring broken ceilings, walls, doors, and other office fixtures will not only give your office a professional, brand-new look, but also improve your staff’s health. Mold, odors, and grease can get trapped in broken surfaces, so a small renovation can ensure your interiors are free of these toxins.
Of course, interior design goes beyond cleanliness. The color, layout, and decor features of your office should be in line with what is expected of an industry leader in your line of work. If you sell luxury retreats, products or services, for instance, the location and interiors of your office should be top-grade, and if you are a young tech company, your hardware should be cutting-edge. Your office should ‘walk the walk’, so to speak, expressing the benefits of contracting your products or services.
Making Body Language Work For You
Making a good first impression involves using the right body language. Clients and collaborators should be greeted warmly, with a firm handshake and ‘open’ body language. Avoid defensive body language (crossing arms and legs), and aim to point your feet and turning your body towards the person you are addressing. Mirroring their movements subtly will also indicate you are on their wavelength. Body language can take just seconds to ruin a business situation so practice this skill prior to an important meeting.
First impressions matter greatly in business, so you should ensure yours don’t get in the way of success. Establishing a dress code and making necessary renovations and office design choices should be considered an important investment in your company’s future. Stay true to your values and brand, but make sure that your looks spell professionalism from the moment your clients first step into your office.