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Career Corner
Make your first impression count

Mitch Meyerson -- Imagine yourself as the guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey show counseling families you never met before in front of millions of viewers. There is only one take and the next 60 minutes could change the course of your life. That's exactly what I experienced in 1991 during the release of my first book.

Let me tell you how I made that experience the best it could be and how you can make your first impressions count when the opening theme music begins for your next job interview.

Anchoring Yourself For Success

What if I told you there was a technique I used for five minutes three times a day the week before this TV appearance that increased my self-confidence, relaxation, empowerment and helped me present myself the most effective way possible? It's called creative imagination.

Athletes have used the technique for years, picturing a flawless performance in their minds prior to an event. World class runner, Rodger Banister states that the reason he broke the four minute mile was because he visualized it many times before this historic race in 1954. Yet you needn't be performing in an athletic competition to harness the power of this technique. I used in preparation for my appearance on Oprah and you can use it for your next job interview.

It's well known by now that we only use 10% of our minds, and the other 90% is the unconscious portion. Creative imagination allows people to tap into this unconscious portion of their minds and harness its potential power.

We already have pictures and images in our minds. Trouble is, some of them are self-defeating. Why? Early on in life we might have been criticized at an impressionable moment and our mind held onto this memory vividly. This type of event can formulate a general pattern of expectation and we can lose sight that this was an event and not who we are.

This is what to do to "recondition" yourself in an empowering way:

1. Picture a moment in your life when you felt powerful. (i.e. you received a promotion, won a tournament or were acknowledged for an important achievement).
2. Close your eyes and relive that experience as fully as you can. Visualize the scene, feel your emotions, hear the people around you acknowledge you.
3. "Anchor" your experience by touching the thumb and your middle finger of your dominant hand. Connect this positive imagery with this physical sensation. Build this connection three times a day for the next week.
4. When you do your next interview or presentation "anchor" your thumb and middle finger (no one will notice) and feel your confidence increase.

Be Intentional: Your Accidental and Intentional Self

Another way to make your first impression count is to avoid unintentional messages you may be sending to your prospects. Many job seekers send unintentional messages, some which unconsciously sabotage their overall goals. They want to land a job, but their inability to make eye contact or the mumbled message they leave on an answering machine turns off the employer.

Send No Unintentional Messages

Unintentional messages erect an insurmountable barrier. Your job: be sure there is no barrier. There are really two people within you -- your accidental self and your intentional self. Most people are able to conduct about 95 percent of their lives by intent. But in today's job market that's not enough.

It's the other 5 percent that can get you in trouble. I'm not talking phoniness here. It's important to be who you are and to be aware of what you're doing, aware of whether or not your actions communicate ideas that will help you get the job you deserve.

Presenting Yourself with Impact

How do you send messages and present yourself right now?

* Pay attention to things that matter to others even more than what you say: keeping promises, punctuality, listening, honesty, demeanor, respect, gratitude, passion, sincerity, initiative, reliability. Enthusiasm, energy and cheerfulness can often be the defining variables.

* You market yourself in print with attention to detail in your letters, email, website, notes, faxes, brochures and other printed material. You also market yourself with your attitude—in a big way.

* You also send important signals with your eye contact, body language, habits and your speech patterns. Even the subtle communications like rolling your eyes or a sigh can lose rapport.

* Be conscious of your appearance. How you look can make or break a first impression. Feedback from a trusted friend can be invaluable.

* What are people using to base their opinions, to make their decisions about you?

Clothing * Hair * Weight * Jewelry * Makeup * Business card * Laugh * Glasses * Title * Neatness * Smell * Teeth * Smile * you Eye contact * Posture * Tone of voice * Handwriting * Spelling * Thoughtfulness * Car * Office * Home * Nervous habitsÊ* Handshake * Stationery * Availability * Writing ability * Phone use * Enthusiasm * Energy level

* Ask a trusted friend, colleague or success coach how you present yourself to others. It is always difficult to see ourself with the most objective eye. Awareness is always the first step to creating positive change.

In today's market it is often the small details that count most. With the right intention and attitude you can give yourself every chance for success.

Mitch Meyerson is a success coach and is the author of six books and audiotapes on Personal Development including Six Keys To Creating The Life You Desire and When Is Enough Enough?

© 2003 CareerBuilder.com

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal or medical professional.