No doubt you’ve heard the old axiom, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” And it’s tough to fix a bad first impression, especially in a world where some clients are predisposed to not trusting financial advisors. That’s a high hurdle to overcome when first meeting potential clients who may be looking for any reason to walk away.
You’ve probably also heard that the human brain processes information about a person’s face and mannerisms within a matter of seconds, leading to a quick conclusion about their abilities. The hurdle just got higher.
It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been in the business. Potential clients instinctively weigh and measure you, not by your expertise, capabilities, or knowledge, but by how much they think they like you. They’re looking for someone they can trust, and most people can’t trust someone they don’t like.
Authenticity = Likability
You don’t have to ooze likability to succeed at making good first impressions. Potential clients aren’t as interested in advisors who are likable as advisors who come across as authentic. What does that mean? It’s about having a presence that emits conviction and confidence while putting the people around you at ease, like a comforting, old friend making them feel at home. People sense authenticity when they’re around it. They are less likely to doubt the integrity of someone they perceive to be authentic.
Authenticity is also what drives connections. Clients have a hard time connecting with someone they don’t feel is authentic. They don’t like advisors who put on airs or appear to act like someone they’re not. It’s an automatic turnoff, and people have a sixth sense about it. They’re more likely to feel a connection with someone who has imperfections and is willing to let their vulnerability show through. You’ll have plenty of time to convince potential clients of your capabilities and knowledge once you succeed at making that connection.
How to Let Your Authenticity Shine Through
#1. Dress for success, not to impress
First impressions often start with how someone appears. As an advisor, you are expected to dress well. However, even in your dress, you need to be true to yourself. You won’t impress many people by wearing a $2,000 suit or alligator-skin shoes. You certainly should avoid wearing a $3,000 Rolex watch. That’s not being authentic. Your dress should reflect confidence and approachability.
#2. Exude passion
There’s nothing more authentic than being passionate about what you do. If your enthusiasm for your work shows through in your attitude, tone of voice, and mannerisms, people will sense it. If you’re upbeat, people will be positive with you.
#3. Be an active listener
Nothing turns people off more than a person who dominates the conversation, especially when they first meet. Listening is the key to social connectivity because it’s how you build rapport and trust. But you need to listen authentically. Follow the person’s line of thinking and then draw them out more by asking a follow-up question, showing genuine curiosity. People are drawn to those who are authentically interested in what they have to say.
#4. Do your homework
These days it’s not difficult to learn things about your prospects that can drive a more authentic conversation. A Google search will tell you if they’ve been in the news. Social media sites will reveal their interests and connections. It’s a way to find common interests and, perhaps, common acquaintances. If you do find a common interest, be prepared to share your own experience.
Pro Tip: Today, people expect to be Googled or viewed on social media. You should also expect the same from your prospects. You can bet they looked you up just before meeting with you. That’s the actual first impression you make, so it’s vital you are aware of your online presence and how you are being presented. It’s also why it’s essential to have an online presence because, without one, people will wonder why.
With less than 30 seconds to make a favorable first impression, one that can lead to a relationship, it’s critical that your only objective is to make a connection. That holds true for the next 15 or 20 minutes. Don’t make that time about you or your firm. Make it about your prospects. Any mention of your firm or services before building rapport and trust will likely shut them down. Instead, have fun by just being you and getting to know your prospect while letting your authenticity shine through.