The way you present yourself, and your business in everyday interactions is a powerful vehicle for promoting your image.
Whether you represent a small business or a major corporation, your goal is positive results with clients, both current and potential ones. Before you can gain access, the first time—or the tenth time–your visual image has to be attractive to your prospect. Some people would disagree but it is true. You may be able to make the appointment via email, text, or phone, but your first impression is VISUAL.
Your image is made up of numerous elements, some you carefully cultivate and others you may not be aware of. To give yourself an image “check-up,” there are several areas you can begin to critique:
Others’ reactions to you.
Other people’s initial reactions to you can tell you a lot about whether your image is working for you or against you. Ask yourself, do people assume you are a lot older or younger than you really are? Do people take you seriously, or do they seem unconvinced or dismissive? Are strangers surprised when you tell them what you do for a living?
Such questions should help you interpret signals you receive from different people in your various spheres of interaction.
Your body language.
Sit in front of a full-length mirror. Study how you look. Be sure to examine all parts of your body. How do you look in different positions? Is your body saying what you want it to say? When you want to appear friendlier, are your arms folded? Are you sitting in a masculine position, when you want to look softer? Once you are aware of how you look, you can make little changes here and there to make your body say what you want it to say.
Your business attitude.
Attitude is how you react to stimuli or input. You either have a positive, neutral, or negative reaction towards an object, a person, place, thing, or an event. The way you judge your reactions, and the way that they affect you sets your behavior based on your attitude. Start with asking these questions, How do you view the world? How do you view yourself? Attitude is one of the main drivers of behavior for you and the people you may lead now and in the future. Shift your attitude, then adjust.
Representing your business.
How you represent your business is an important part of your image. Here are some common business image mistakes to avoid:
- Sending out sloppy digital and regular business materials
- Not doing what you say you are going to do
- Failing to say “thank you” in writing, digitally or otherwise
- Not being punctual, nor informing of an absence
- Not answering important emails, voice mail, and direct messages on your social networks
Take note, represent, not present – two different ways to critique image.
Looking great is a matter of having a simple routine. Check your appearance in a three-panel mirror if possible. Watch for scuffs on shoes and wrinkles in clothing; even if you’re online, we can still see you!
Color guidelines for effective dress.
Color should not overpower you–it should complement your appearance. There are 3 ways to use color in business:
- Powerful – Use high contrast. (Example: Black suit with “crisp” white shirt)
- Approachable- Use medium to low contrast. (Example: Lavender top with dark purple pants)
- Creative- Use patterns and different textures; experiment with dress. (Example: A dark suit with a Disney character Tie)
Do not allow your clothing to “wear” you. The wardrobe that works best for you and your business image is less about fashion and more about function. To develop a dynamic core wardrobe consider four elements: Lifestyle, Body type (athletic, slim, etc.), Coloring, and Fashion personality (dramatic, casual, or classic).
Internationally Accepted Guidelines for Dress.
Even if you do not deal in International business, you must know the internationally accepted guidelines for business dress. No matter where you are, if you see a sign with a fork and knife pictured, what does that mean? Food, an internationally accepted symbol.
Recently, I was in class with several colleagues from different countries. We were discussing guidelines for business interactions in their country vs. the US. I was surprised by the differences in what to wear vs. not. It’s important to understand who you’re doing business with.
Your Image on Video Conferences.
Record yourself during a meeting. When you review the recording, take note of everything above especially your body language, and facial expressions. What image are you projecting? I’ll share more on this in a later post.
These are a few things you can do to put power in your image, but YOU play an important part in the achievement of your goals. Having the correct outward appearance and the right attitude can, often times, take you farther than education or experience.
© Effició, Inc.