Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is Your Image Reflecting Your Business?

Are you one of those people who say that they don’t judge a book by it’s cover?
But are you really being honest with yourself?

How do you act when you meet somebody for the first time? Do you pay attention to his/her general look? I do!

Do you know that in life and more importantly in business you have only 30 seconds to make the right first impression when you meet somebody for the first time?

Yes, in just 30 seconds people will subconsciously make a decision on whether they want to work with you or not. So make that first contact count.

How you dress influences what people think about you?

Working with small business owners for years in France and for the last four years in New York, and now specializing in networking, I have to say that I am always surprised to see how some people dress for networking events or business meetings.

Those who do not dress in suitable business attire are usually the ones who are surprised that their business doesn’t take off.

How do you act when you buy a product in a store?

Let’s say that you are looking at a printer and you have the choice between two brands. The product inside the boxes has the same exact characteristics. So how do you make your choice? Do you choose the one with the less attractive package or with the most attractive package? Do you choose the one which highlights the characteristics and benefits of buying this product? Or the one which presents the product in a regular, white box without any information?

And it is exactly the same thing where people are concerned. How a prospect will choose between you and your competitors is not based on your experience and your competencies, but is based on the way you look.

If you are able to impress them with the way you dress and the way you look, they will pay more attention to what you have to say.

It seems unfair, I know, but remember that you are judged every day, simply on the way you look.

So how to maximize your appearance:

1- Create an image to impress!

Your image is what people see long before you even get the chance to speak. Choose a wardrobe that works for you and your business. But you need to be yourself, don’t try to copy somebody, follow what you see in a magazine, or follow some fashion trends, because if your image doesn’t reflect your personality, people will see it immediately.

Don’t try to fake it, be yourself.

Create an image that fits your business. Have the right attitude. Be consistent with your image. The image you reflect, good or bad, has a direct impact on how other perceive your business.

In other words, have a professional look. Respect yourself and others will respect you.

2 - Dress with Confidence

When you look your best and act with self-confidence, others will see you that way too.

Keep it simple. Wear traditional colors like blue, grey or black.

Pay attention to your shoes, sloppy shoes can completely damage your image. Choose shoes that improve your silhouette. Make sure to clean your shoes before your leave the house.

Treat your hands like your best friend. When you meet somebody and hand out your business card, people will have a look at your hands. So have neat nails, well polished, if you are a woman and remember to change your nail polish on a regular basis, if you wear some. Never, never go out with your nail polish half effaced.

I read once in a magazine that when a woman dates a man for the first time, the first two things he notices are her hands and her shoes. So consider the same thing for business.

You don’t need to spend lots of money to look great, business-like and confident.

I work with many start-up businesses and very often my clients tell me that since they have a limited budget for their business, how can they possibly have a budget for a new wardrobe.

One of my best clients, who lives in Paris, is an image consultant and a personal shopper and I partner with her to help some of my clients. She is truly incredible, she is able to find a complete outfit with accessories, including a handbag, for less than a $100. And the items are of a very good quality.

Yes, you heard me, for less than a $100. So learn how to shop. Shop during the sales, at the end of the season, or go to outlets. You will find a lot of great deals.

Don’t buy clothes that will go out of style at the end of the season. Buy a few new tops, ties, or accessories that will make the difference. Sometimes just by changing one item from your outfit, you will look totally different. So you don’t need hundreds of clothes. Just learn how to put everything together.

Think of yourself as a brand.

As a small business owner, you spend a lot of time trying to perfect and improve your offering. So treat yourself as your most important product or service. Go back to your marketing plan. How did you brand you product? How can you do the same for yourself? What makes you different? How can your image make an impact compared to your competitors?

Still need help to create your professional image? Learn more about “Power of Networking Secrets”. In this 5 step program, you will find everything you need on how to maximize your networking results.

You will learn: how to design a memorable business card and an outstanding professional image– how to polish an elevator pitch which will hook your audience so that people will remember you – how to create a 7 step follow-up system to turn more prospects into clients – how to use your newsletter to promote your products or services without hard selling – how to create strategic alliances to grow our business faster. You can read more about it here.