How to make an impact in 2012

How to make an impact in 2012

The forthcoming year looks likely to be as tough as the last one. So how can you make the most of your business opportunities? Amanda Vickers offers her advice.

Do you ever start the year full of best intentions and not end up delivering on them? Maybe you have a list of resolutions and try your best but all that effort doesn’t quite pay off. Have you ever missed out on a job or promotion because you didn’t make a positive impression? Would you like to be able to assert yourself more confidently? Do people remember your colleagues but forget you? If that’s true of you, you’re not alone. You need to raise your profile and influence people. You need to make an impact. These five secrets of success are guaranteed to get your New Year off to a great start.

1. Develop inner confidence. How you feel on the inside makes a huge difference to how you come across on the outside. That feeling shines through to the surface. Some people feel, look and sound confident and selfassured. How do they do that? Confident people often feel fearful when they do things for the first time. They do things anyway – despite their fears, they don’t take criticism personally and they don’t expect to do things perfectly – they allow themselves a quota of mistakes.

2. Build the reputation you want. Your reputation is what other people say and think about you – it’s your personal brand. Too many people leave this to chance. When they interact with others they have no real idea how they want to be perceived. As a result they end up sending mixed or confused messages. How do you create the brand you want? Take a sheet of paper and note down how you think others describe you – this is your current brand. Then write a list of things you want them to say about you. Compare the two lists. What’s the gap between where you are and where you want to be? All you have to do then is live your brand.

3. Make a positive first impression. You’ve probably got no more than seven seconds to make a positive impression. When anyone meets you they size you up, they evaluate you, they judge you – and within seconds they’ve pretty much made their mind up about you. If you’re going to meet an important new client the impact you make in those first vital seconds determines success or failure. The solution lies in harnessing the halo effect – when people meet people they take a limited amount of information and add to it without any additional evidence. To make the most of this simply dress well, have an upright posture and demonstrate the positive qualities most people like such as kindness, intelligence and a sense of humour.

4. Connect with people. Imagine what it could be worth to you, personally and professionally, if you could connect quickly and easily with people you meet most of the time. The essence of connecting – sometimes called rapport – is believing the other person is like you, and you believing the same about them. All you have to do is listen actively to them, be interested in them, match their body language and voice – people naturally mirror body language and vary their voice to match others when they like them.

5. Raise your profile. Many people work hard and quietly get on with their job and wonder why they don’t get promoted. It’s all too easy to be invisible. It may not be fair that while you have your nose to grindstone others seem to get the best jobs. The reason this happens is that we don’t let people know about what we’ve achieved – perhaps because of a fear of bragging or boasting. There’s a middle ground which is visible and gets you noticed in a good way. When people ask you what you’ve been up to instead of saying “Nothing much” give them a good news update. This is a 30-second update on something you’re proud of. Apply even two or three of these tips and you will boost your impact. Go for all of them and get off to a flying start in 2012. N  Impact, by Amanda Vickers, Steve Bavister and Jackie Smith, is available in January, £10.99 from Pearson Prentice Hall. Amanda Vickers is director of Speak First and is a management training and development coach.