When you start a business there is lots to think about and to plan. But if YOU are YOUR business it is important that you think about how you come across to others. You might spend time and money crafting your website, designing your logo, and creating your business cards but it could all be futile if you don’t “look the part”. It is never too soon to ‘dress for success.’
As the old saying goes – you never get a second chance to make a first impression so it is vital that you portray yourself in the best possible way from the outset and then maintain that image.
If a person looks a certain way we naturally would expect that person to behave in a particular way. For example, someone wearing silk or linen tops makes an instantly different first impression to someone wearing polyester. Therefore the clothes that you choose to wear are essential to the impact you make and you can then use your image as a strategy to help you to succeed.
Celebrities spend a fortune on creating and maintaining a certain image, so why can’t we do the same?
Ask yourself these 3 simple questions to help you select what to wear:
How do I want to be seen?
Think of three words to sum up how you would like others to see you? What do you want them to believe about you, before you even open your mouth?
These words may change depending on the occasion or situation but having these words in mind will help you choose, plan and shop for clothes in the future. Your words might include: professional, knowledgeable, fun, creative, powerful, friendly, successful, powerful, authoritative, trendy, interesting or approachable. When you have chosen your words, think how these words might look as outfits, accessories or as part of your grooming.
What would people expect someone in my profession to wear?
This is linked to the previous question but vital to consider – for example if I was at a networking meeting and met a gardener I wouldn’t expect them to look “suited and booted” and I would probably mistrust their abilities if I didn’t see a little dirt under their fingernails! This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t take care of their appearance but in my eyes there would be a disconnect between how they looked and what they were saying.
Who am I meeting?
Reflecting the type of clothes that your client or potential client is wearing is a quick and easy way of building rapport. Do some research beforehand to ensure that you select garments that mirror their dress code eg is a suit appropriate or too smart, and how casual is the organisation? It is always easier to dress down from up – for example, you might arrive in a jacket but provided you are wearing a long-sleeved shirt or blouse underneath you could remove the jacket if you think you are too formally dressed; however you can’t magic a suit out of thin air if you are dressed too casually!
So what do you think your clothes say about you? Are they standing between you and success?