Business Success Still Requires a Personal Touch

by Ralph Albert Thomas, CEO and executive director, NJCPA | February 7, 2018

The saying “You only have one chance to make a first impression” holds true in many situations, but how can you make sure that you are starting off on the right foot? While technological advancements will always have their place in business, one should never forget the human touch.

Call me old fashioned, but I have the same philosophy now as I did when I was first starting my career. In the 90s, I read a book that had a lasting impact on me: The Personal Touch: What You Really Need to Succeed in Today's Fast Paced Business World by Terrie Williams. Terri’s approach is that old-fashioned considerate behavior is what it takes to get ahead in the high-tech, fast-paced business world. Simply put, she believes that to do well in business you must do right by others. In order to make a personal connection, the following tips can help:

  1. Prepare. Know who you’re meeting -- whether they are client prospects, job candidates, new colleagues, new interns or prospective partners -- what they care about, and what they might need from you. Be on time for the meeting.
  2. Be mindful of how you appear to others. Portray the image that presents you in the best possible light, so dress appropriately for the occasion.
  3. Watch your body language. Stand tall, smile (of course), make eye contact, and greet people with a firm handshake.
  4. Approach others with a genuine interest in who they are. It’s not all about you. Listen and look for ways to help. Your goal is to show that you are a problem solver and that your skills put you in the best position to help.
  5. Follow up. Even when the conversation is over, your job isn’t done. To ensure a good first impression, send a personalized note of sincere appreciation. If you’re considering sending an email or a text message to a client, customer or employee, take a moment to think about composing a handwritten note instead. Whether you are commending, apologizing, consoling or answering a question, taking the time to write is often more powerful and convincing than the message itself.

Remember, science tells us that you only have seven seconds to make a “first impression.” Make it count.

Ralph Albert Thomas

Ralph Albert Thomas

Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA, is the CEO and executive director of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and serves on the AICPA Council and the CPA Vision Project team. He was appointed to the inaugural AICPA National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, and subsequently the AICPA Foundation Board. Ralph is a lifetime member and former national and chapter president of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), was appointed chair of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s (NASBA) State Society Relations Committee, and is a member of the accounting advisory boards of Lehigh, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Montclair State, Felician, Thomas Edison universities and Middlesex County College.

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