As I was getting ready the other day, I thought to myself:
“Do I look like what I do?”
“Do I make the right impression?”
“Am I representing my personal brand?”
Your personal brand is essentially the brand called YOU. It’s the message you “intend” and the story you “tell” when you meet people for the first time (or the 50th).
Do you look like what you do?
Are you making the right impression? (Or one that says you just got out of bed and don’t care about getting that promotion?)
Are you representing your personal brand?
If you’re unsure, take a deep breath. And keep reading. Because you’re not alone.
Studies show that our visual presence is an important contributor to our success. Did you know that people assess your competence and trustworthiness in about a quarter of a second?* That’s not a lot of time to make a positive impression.
Our visual appearance can be a very powerful communications tool. When we look polished and pulled together, we are perceived more favorably.
The following tips were designed around reoccurring themes experienced by my corporate clients. Companies are looking to educate their rising stars about the important role their image plays along with strong communication skills. These tips will help you communicate a strong visual presence and stay true to your personal brand:
Grooming: Impeccable grooming and personal hygiene are essential to looking polished. This includes clean and manicured nails, a professional hairstyle rather than a cheap haircut, a clean shave or well-groomed facial hair, minimal or no perfume or cologne.
Standards: Clothes should be ironed and well fitting. Avoid tight, transparent or low cut clothing. Shoes need to be polished and heels in good shape. Match your socks to your pants. Please note that white athletic socks are not acceptable. Anything worn out needs to be replaced including a handbag, computer bag or tote that has seen better days.
Investment: Invest in quality fabrics and classis styles along with simple accessories. This investment alone speaks volumes.
Communication: Check your body language. Is your image communicating confidence by standing up straight, feet planted, shoulders back and head straight or are you giving in to slumping over especially during a meeting?
Engagement: Brush up on basic etiquette. Know how to make a proper introduction when connecting new people. Relationships are about building trust. The key to successful relationships is to make others feel comfortable, engaged and important.
Choice: Everything you wear communicates a specific message. Be intentional and choose clothes that communicate the message you intend. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money on a wardrobe of brand name clothes. It just means you need to dress the part. For example, a black pencil skirt paired with a coordinating blazer gives off a much more positive impression than a mini skirt and see-through blouse.
Remember, if you want to be viewed as a leader, you need to look and act the part in everything you do. After all, looking like a leader is the first step to becoming one!
*Research conducted by Harvard Medical School and Mass General Hospital