You’re brilliant, you do good work, you’re responsible – and yet, you’re not getting the opportunities you want. Could the problem be your image? Oh sure, you’re saying. That’s an old mentality; today dress doesn’t matter. Everyone is casual in today’s workplace.
Well, studies continuously show that image does matter. You may have the RIGHT to wear jeans with holes in them, have a tattoo on your forearm and ignore using deodorant. But exercising your right to do so will also definitely limit your success and opportunities. If you want to be taken seriously, respected and promoted in business, then you’d better pay attention to the “image” you’re projecting in these factors: your physical appearance, your choice of clothing, your posture, the way you speak, your table manners, your writing skills, your handshake and how well you make eye contact with other people. These things do tell a lot about you – and form people’s opinions of you very quickly.
Fortunately, help is all around us. Most clothing stores have personal shoppers who can help you select clothing to make you look your best. Join a Toastmasters club to become more comfortable speaking in front of a group. I recently had my voice coach (Dr. Ralph Hillman) rock the members of my Mastermind with a short presentation on speaking without being nasal or breathy. I’ve invited performance coach Elyssa Smith (Your Best Moment) to work with my Coaching Mastery group next week. Online tutorials are readily available to help in improving manners, shaking hands confidently and knowing which fork to pick up first.
I know how easy it is to allow little habits to creep in unnoticed. Using “actually” 15 times in a short conversation, clearing throat constantly, standing with shoulders stooped forward, or tapping fingers on the table may be part of how people evaluate you without you consciously even noticing.
We know doing business decisions (whether for a job, as a coach or as a salesperson) are usually made in the first 3-5 minutes of an interaction. This means the interviewers are not looking at the fine print on the fourth page of your resume. They are looking at you and asking, “Do I like this person? Is this person fun to be around? Is he honest? Will she fit in as part of our team?” Maximize your marketability by addressing these common sense issues. Why compromise your talent with an unpolished image?