Make a Good First Impression in 1/10th of a Second: Here’s How

When I was a boy, my mum always used to tell me ‘You don’t get a second chance at making a good first impression’ and she was right.

Steve Bruce
Jul 16, 2019 8 mins read
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As a Business Owner myself, I know that making a great first impression is vital to successful business.

Depending on who you talk to, you have between 1/10 of a second to 1 minute to make a positive impact when you meet someone new.

Research from NYU suggests that within the first seven seconds of meeting, most people have already made 11 major decisions about who they think you are.

Within 60 seconds, what they think of you will be pretty much set in stone in their mind, even if new data later reveals itself that challenges that initial first impression.

One minute simply isn’t enough time for you to charm your new client or make up for an early mistake and if you get it wrong, there may be no ‘second meeting’.

A professional headshot is a great way to help make a positive & professional good first impression to your prospects.

After 3 years I had decided to finally shave my beard off. I grew it while at sea sailing on a 2,200 nautical mile, 3-week passage to The Philippines in 2016, so I was quite attached to it and indeed, I felt it represented who I was as a person very well.

The thing is, a couple of my female friends kept telling me me I’d look younger and better looking clean shaven. In life it is good to change from time to time, so I had decided it was time for something different.

Just ‘Call me Mr. Vain….”

Of course, this meant I needed to get a new headshot done. As you may know, head shots are one of my pet topics and I strongly believe that it is important to use a photo that represents who you look like today to accurately reflect your personal brand.

Remember, we all looked hotter 10 years ago – even you.

I always like to work with a different photographer each time I get a new headshot done, so that I can learn more about this very interesting topic.

This time I decided to work with one of Hong Kongs top photographers, William Furniss. Anyone who has been in Hong Kong for a while & moves in the right circles knows William and he is widely regarded as the ‘gentlemen photographer’ of Hong Kong. He is most famous for his urban & architectural photography and you will see his work on the walls of many upscale homes in Hong Kong.

 

William started out as a Photographer’s Assistant for both Lord Patrick Lichfield and Terry O’Neill (CBE) back in London, so I was sure he was up to the job.

William says:

‘My equipment is very simple. At best a camera, lens, tripod, and feet. The subjects are complicated, I must employ a simple approach to stand any chance of things making sense.”

Another reason that I admire William so much is that despite being a professional photographer, he is still passionate about taking photos for his own pleasure. I remember bumping into him on the tram one rainy day in Hong Kong. He was shooting a series of shots entitled ‘rain’ which he told me he was doing ‘just for fun’. I found this quite refreshing as not all photographers I meet still have this level of passion after so many years.

You can see the results below.

From past headshot experiences I knew:

1. Always wear a jacket – makes you look smarter & more professional

2. Make sure you had a fresh haircut & a shave – I simply shaved all my hair off. Remember, you will be using your new head shot for at least the next 3 years, so make sure you are looking your best

3. Wear a nice shirt – where I live in Hong Kong, you can get a tailored shirt made for USD38/GBP30 which is less than it costs to buy one in ZARA, so this is a great opportunity to treat yourself to a new one – go on, you deserve it.

Williams tips are:

The shoot should be quick and relaxed – a quick game is a good game

Always lean slightly into the camera – makes you look better

Everyone has a ‘best side’. Your photographer will help you work this out. Usually it is the side below your hair parting, i.e. the longest vertical dimension of your face, but not always and if you have no hair, like me, then this doesn’t work.

Avoid wearing crazy patterns – solid colours are always easier to see & less distracting

Jackets add dimension and graphic framing to a face; I highly recommend them.

If you want to wear a tie, pick a stylish one that matches your shirt – once again, no crazy patterns or cute stuff unless you are a professional clown. Also, make sure you tie it properly. a loose or poorly knotted tie looks worse than no tie at all

Women – wear a top with sleeves unless you are a yoga instructor!

Don’t point your shoulder at the camera unless your shoulder is the best thing about you. This is a weird thing that many people are convinced makes them look thinner. It actually makes you look unengaged and rather defensive which is not the friendly professional look we are going for.

Those of you who have attended my ‘LinkedIn™ for Business’ workshop on Personal Branding will know that I never leave anything to chance when it comes to my headshot. You simply can’t trust your partner or your friends to pick the best headshot for your as they suffer from what is called ‘confirmation bias’.

Turns out the better someone knows you, the more unreliable their feedback is about your headshot

Here’s why: Your friends already know all about you and your world and already have a fully formed opinion about who you are as a person along with your many quirks & foibles. When they see your headshot, they see it through a more forgiving filter or lens based on what they already know about you.

They will not have the same questions, suspicions, or curiosities that a total stranger might.

Your professional headshot is going to viewed mainly by people who do not know you from a bar of soap. Therefore, to get it right, you need to know how it looks to them.

According to a recent study published in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications called, “Choosing face: The curse of self in profile image selection’; by nature, people don’t pick the most flattering photos of themselves. In fact, according to the study, the photos people picked themselves to represent them powerfully made much less favourable impressions than the ones selected by strangers.

According to the study’s conclusions, we simply don’t see pictures of ourselves in the same way strangers do and because of that, it’s too easy for us to pick the wrong ones.

That’s why I always use https://www.photofeeler.com/ to test my headshots.

Here are the results I got from my last headshot which was done by Christiaan Hart . As you can see, it tested really well.

The question was, ‘could Williams headshots give me better results?’

Only one way to find out.

I’m always surprised how the smallest things can often make the biggest difference when it comes to headshots. We took around 60 shots in total and after struggling to narrow them down to 3 by myself, I asked William to help me out & pick his 3 favourites and we would test those – remember the data from the study?

As you can see, there is one clear winner that came out ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest, so to speak.

What do you think of my new headshot? What about the tips? Do you have any to add?

Please leave your comments below.

Also, please feel free to share these tips with your network.

Here’s to more professional headshots because ‘you don’t get a second chance at making a good first impression’

Steve Bruce | Marketing Consultant for LinkedIn™

#professionalheadshot #personalbranding #LinkedIn™ for business @williamfurniss

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