Crafting Your Personal Brand: Mastering First Impressions with Your Tone and Resting Face

Oct 23, 2023

Creating a lasting first impression is more important than ever in today's fast-paced world. While I never thought of first impressions as developing a personal brand, a recent session with a fascinating professional had me looking at all of it in new ways. And today, I'm going to share what I learned with you.

In the Words of a Personal Branding Guru

I attended a meeting recently with distinguished professor Dr. Thomas Karam from Louisiana State University. He is known as the university's Personal Branding Guru. He works with athletes, preparing them for media days and public careers. He's worked with guys like Joe Burrow and Shaquil O'Neal, preparing them for the public spotlight and scrutiny they have as professional athletes.

As a decorative concrete professional, you may not have a camera trained on you, but the principles Dr. Karam teaches can improve your first impressions with new clients -- even help you develop your personal brand -- all by mastering the subtle yet powerful elements of tone and resting facial expression.

Do You Need a Personal Brand?

What is your personal brand, and do you need one?

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room."

So you see, you have a personal brand whether you want one or not.

Your personal brand is the essence of who you are and what you stand for. Consider your strengths, your values, and what you want people to associate with you.

In fact, in a recent blog post, we discussed the impression you make by offering a professional estimate. 

I want to be known for being professional, so I maintain a neat appearance. I usually wear a company-branded shirt to go on estimates with the logo of my decorative concrete company.

I also return phone calls promptly and communicate clearly and regularly, all in an effort to make a good impression on my clients.

I want them to think of me as qualified and professional. I also want them to think of me as someone who cares about them -- their property, time and hopes for the project.

But more than all of this, I need to be likable.

Dr. Karam says, "Likeability is the backbone of personal branding, and it’s the ability to still be seen away from the podium."

You're not going to be standing behind a podium with cameras aimed at you on an estimate, but you DO want your customer to say, "I really liked that guy."

It doesn't take a Ph.D. professor to tell you that you'll book more business if they like you. But I had no idea how impactful being more self-aware of my tone and resting facial expression might be.

The Power of Tone

Your tone of voice is a critical aspect of your personal brand. It extends beyond the words you use to how you say them. A warm, friendly tone can make you approachable, and a confident tone conveys authority.

Here are three tips for mastering your tone:

#1 Adaptability

Tailor your tone to fit the situation.

Whether you're speaking to a homeowner for a residential project or a contractor with a commercial project, adjusting your tone can help you connect better.

#2 Empathy

A compassionate tone can foster understanding and build rapport.

Show your genuine interest in your customers by listening actively and responding thoughtfully.

#3 Confidence

A strong and confident tone exudes self-assuredness.

Speak with conviction but avoid arrogance.

Remember, confidence is contagious, but arrogance can be off-putting.

Pro Tip: Consider the opposite of these three tips. Sometimes, when you picture the opposite of something, it helps clarify what you want to understand.

For example, consider this scene displaying the opposite of what we've been talking about. You show up, and your client has their designer there. You don't adapt your tone to the fact that you now have two "clients" to engage with. You don't actively listen to their concerns by restating their hot-button issues. And you spend all your time looking at the project, not them. Finally, you cross the line of confidence into arrogance.

Will they want to do business with you? I think not.

This gives a clear example of the importance of mastering your tone.

Your Resting Face

Believe it or not, your resting face—the expression you wear when you're not actively engaging with others—also contributes to your personal brand.

People often make assumptions based on facial expressions, even if those assumptions aren't accurate.

A warm, open resting face can make you seem approachable, while a neutral or unfriendly expression might give off a different vibe.

Your resting face is when you're not actively engaged, but they are still reading you.

Here are three strategies for a positive resting face:

#1 Smile from Within

A genuine smile can light up your face and convey positivity.

Focus on smiling from your eyes and your mouth to make your expression more authentic.

#2 Relax Facial Muscles

Avoid holding tension in your face, as it can lead to a neutral or even negative expression.

Consciously relax your forehead, jaw, and other facial muscles.

#3 Practice

Be more aware of your facial expressions and intentionally practice the other two things I've mentioned -- smiling and relaxing your face. Over time, this will become your new resting face.

Dr. Karam said you can change your resting face. He admitted he had to take steps to change his own -- but it takes focus.

Developing your personal brand goes beyond dressing well and having a strong online presence. It's about how you communicate and your impression on those around you. By mastering your tone of voice and cultivating a positive resting face, you can create a powerful and authentic personal brand that resonates with others.

BONUS: Tips to Make a Good First Impression

As promised, here are three bonus tips on making a good impression from our online course, Step-by-Step System For Launching Your Decorative Concrete Business.

You only have one chance to make a good first impression, so don't take this lightly.

Tip #1: Dress properly

Your dress should be clean and neat.

Don’t come straight from an installation with material all over you.

And, having a branded shirt with jeans or khaki shorts is a good idea.

Tip #2: Bring appropriate gear

You will need a measuring device like a hand-held roller for exterior projects and a laser measurer for interior projects.

You'll need a way to record notes and take pictures. Consider an iPad for a digital photo portfolio and satellite measuring apps.

Sample boards are helpful for a visual and tactile sample of your systems.

Tip #3: Be professional

Introduce yourself by name -- reminding them of your appointment while handing them a business card.

Be careful to speak at their level. They won’t understand acronyms, abbreviations, or industry jargon. Don’t use technical terms or official names of products.

Don’t curse (even if they do).

Build rapport by being friendly but getting down to business (remember our tips on tone).

Ask them questions and get them talking. It seems counterintuitive, but the more they talk about themselves, the more they will trust you.

So There You Have It

So there you have it -- harnessing your tone and resting face to drastically improve your first impressions and personal brand, and three bonus first impression tips from our online course.

If you're ready to launch or re-launch your decorative concrete business, we'd love to be your partner for success, whether it's investing in our online course or opting for custom coaching.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tips to launch and propel your decorative concrete company forward. Sign up for our email list below so you never miss new targeted advice for launching and optimizing your decorative concrete business.

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