What Is The Purpose Of A Professional Image?
“Your image is everything when it comes to your life and business.”
Wow, what a powerful statement, but it is true.
Consumers judge a business’s credibility, quality and level of professionalism by the way it presents itself to the public.
Yet I have known of business owners who are so busy focusing on other aspects of running their ventures that they have forgotten, underestimated or felt they didn’t have enough time or money to invest in possibly one of the most critical factors that contribute to the success of their business - its image and branding.
The purpose of creating a great brand image is to differentiate it from everyone else in the market. To make people notice it and remember it for all the right reasons.
It is the same for your image – it is the gateway for you to achieve desired personal and professional results. You can express your potential quietly and efficiently without saying a word by the way you present yourself. If your image is not consistent with your business or organisation’s image and environment, you may not fit in or feel confident and comfortable in the presence of others. Your clients may not find you credible and not want to do business with you.
It is time to create your signature style that will brand you as a successful professional and individual.
I want you to take a moment to think about what message your current image or style is saying? Does it support your success or goals?
Social psychologists confirm our first impressions are made up of:
55% Visual - What is seen
38% Tonality - What is heard
7% Words - What is said
The truth is we all make judgments, right or wrong, on people we have not met before based on our first impressions of what they look like and how they dress and present themselves. In the first 7 – 10 seconds judgments are made, and from these judgments people decide if they like you, trust you or want to do business with you. What people see is what they expect to get. They have formed an opinion of you and have made an impression that is difficult to reverse. If an awful first impression is made it is arduous work to change it, but if a great first impression is made you will consistently open many doors and opportunities.
Take a moment to consider the culture and environment of where you work, or what your business projects. Is it conservative, traditional and formal where you will need to look, sound and behave more formally at business meetings and functions? Is it more forward-looking, modern and progressive where you will need to project a more up-to-date and upbeat image?
When your image is not consistent with your brand, people become confused, and they are more likely to close off to you. They often wonder if you can do what you claim you can do. People who do not take much care with their appearance will have to work doubly hard to prove themselves to get the opportunities they seek.
As a professional Stylist and Image Consultant, I genuinely believe everyone is born beautiful. An individual’s image is not about having good looks; it is about looking right, which is achievable by everyone. We all have the ability to look outstanding inside out and outside in, reflecting our best qualities through our appearance, communication and behaviour.
If you want to keep doors open to new opportunities and growth, your image must be positive and consistent. Your total image comprises of a lot of things, including your inner thoughts, behaviour, communication skills, reputation, your outer image, attitude and your actions. The problem with some people, however, is that they make themselves unattractive by eating the wrong foods, wearing the first thing that comes to hand and thinking thoughts that sabotage them. They prevent themselves from reaching their desired image. On a daily basis, your image needs to match who you are, internally and externally.
Looking professional does not mean you have to wear a black power suit. It means that the way you dress should represent your work and your organisation. Your attire needs to be appropriate to your environment and compliment your body shape. Even when dressing casually, it is important to look neat and clean, be well groomed and smell nice, including your breath (be mindful after coffee!).
You need to sound confident, knowledgeable, polite, articulate and polished. You need to think about the pitch of your voice and adjust accordingly to your audience or clients. Think about the pace, or the rate at which you speak, the volume and don’t forget the power of pause as it can be used to add importance and ability to words and allows time for an idea to sink in.
This has to do with the way you conduct yourself, whether at work or outside of work. It means acting in a manner that reflects well on your character and your business or organisation. It is vital to be polished in your business etiquette and social skills, be punctual, detail-oriented and well organised in your business and personal life.
Your look, speech and behaviour will send a consistent message about who you are, and people will respond to you accordingly.
Enjoy your image success everyday, at work and at play. It is your brand.
Carolyn Rowland is a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching and A Professional Image Stylist. Carolyn is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.
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