Appearance plays a large role in the way you are perceived. In fact, studies show a person’s visual image effects over 60% of first impressions, followed by the ability to articulate well. Knowledge of subject matter came in third place.
Here are some things to consider when defining your appearance:
Body type. This may be a sore spot for some, but let’s be honest. Our society is superficial and professionals in good physical shape have a jumpstart on the competition. That’s not to say that others can’t be successful, but this is a hurdle.
If you are not happy with your shape, take steps to make a change. And no matter what your shape, please dress accordingly, which leads us to the next point.
Clothes/Accessories. Your attire offers the perfect opportunity to reinforce your ideal image. Make sure that all of your clothing is neat, clean, in good condition, and fits well (no pulling buttons, tight pants and/or unpolished shoes). It also doesn’t hurt to wear styles from the year 2000 and up, not 1980.
And while showing your personality is important, be careful that your personality doesn’t overpower your brand message. For instance, business suits are great to show professionalism, but you can also show professionalism with a business top and bottom. However the miniskirt that you wore last night, or your favorite bar t-shirt may send the wrong message.
The key is to know your target audience and dress accordingly. Professional business attire is pretty self-explanatory, but this site gives excellent pointers on business casual: http://www.bremercommunications.com/Business_Casual.htmHygiene. Bluntly put, showers and oral hygiene are fundamental. Furthermore, clean and well-kept hair and nails are crucial to a positive appearance. And ladies, makeup should complement our natural beauty, not scare little children.
As a bonus, here are a couple of other things professionals don’t normally consider, but should…
Car. Many professionals believe their car is just about personal preference. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Here are a few of the typical conclusions others draw from your car. They decide whether or not you have children, hobbies, and your age (two door cars are usually attributed to young drivers, while four doors suggest a more practical, stable person). Also people see clean cars as a sign that the owner is neat and organized.
Technology. No matter what your technology preference, make sure that it is not outdated. While you don’t need the newest and fastest thing on the block, pulling out a phone that is the size of your head sends a poor message. It says, “I am not open to change; I’ve had this since the ‘80s.”
A slow computer and/or no way to connect with clients when you are away from your office are also negative factors. Consider a PDA, Blackberry or at least a phone from this century.
Next week I will discuss work ethic.
Towanda Long aka The Café Lady