You: a Brand to Build
June 5, 2009
How many highly qualified people do you know of who just don’t cut it in terms of people skills and polish? My bet is quite a few. Performance, qualification and opportunity get you places; personal buzz dictates how far you go with it. If you want to get ahead and stay on top in your career, create a positive image. Complement your skills and abilities with a professional persona. Brand yourself because in real life, impressions do count.
Some quick pointers on how to dress, behave and speak to achieve various business images:
Look Influential A commanding or powerful presence can be achieved without physical stature. Your bearing, appearance and actions can lend an air of authority. Immaculate grooming, formal clothing, a straight back, a steady gaze, a confident facial set, spare but directed gestures and a strong, firm voice will give you authority.
Appear Confident Speaking, shaking hands, gesturing and moving with assertion creates confidence in your judgment and decisiveness. Look a person in the eye when speaking or listening to them. Dress in defined colors with a strong sense of personal style.
Look Successful An affluent person is generally considered a successful person. Wearing designer garb or donning expensive accessories is the fastest way to look like one has “made it” but the real look of success is more subtle. It has to do with quality. Buy the best you can afford.
Look competent Sloppy clothing, dirtiness and untidy ways implies inattention to detail and disorganization. It suggests that you are slack and “can’t be bothered”. Cut that loose thread, polish your belt and tidy your desk. Good grooming and organization looks “on-the-ball”.
Look current and forward thinking Maintain a modern, current look. It helps give the impression that you are “up with the play”. Inspire confidence in your broad and creative thinking. Warning: up-to-date does not mean fashion-forward or quirky unless you work in fashion-related or creative industries.
Look Able to do the Job Whatever your age, appear in peak physical condition. A strong mind and body suggests you can cope with the demands of the job. Maintain a youthful mien when middle-age brings physical changes.
Look Sophisticated This is an over-all quality. It has to do with good posture, bearing and manner as much as the way you dress. Easy, fluid movements, a modulated tone and volume of voice, courteous ways, good manners, well-coordinated fine quality clothing and accessories, impeccable grooming and appropriateness in behavior and dress signify a well-bred person.
Appear Friendly and Approachable Good people-skills are a must in business, especially in sales and marketing. An “open door” policy with staff and colleagues only works if you are approachable. If you appear intimidating, up your friendliness-factor by dressing in more casual clothing (e.g. open collar), earth tones, low contrast colors, a yellow tie, tweeze your mono-brow, relax, don’t frown, SMILE.
Consistently looking and being professional gives you an edge on others. Look right for the job. Create a personal brand that reflects your company’s brand and promotes its product or services. Most importantly, build an authentic image that sells you yourself.
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The writer, Denise Ng, is a certified image consultant in Singapore. Her consultancy Imago Image specializes in personal image, offering advice on style, the art of dressing, wardrobe, color, grooming, social and business etiquette and communication skills.