MAKE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION YOUR BEST IMPRESSION.

They say “the first impression matters” and you will never get a second chance to make that impression after failing in your first attempt. As a small business owner, you become the embodiment of your company; you also become a public person, which has ramifications. Whether your going to the shopping complex or attending an important meeting, it’s important that you create a positive reflection of your company. If you were an owner of a cleaning service company, your clients would expect you to wear simple cleaning uniforms or gear; if your outfitted in a designer suit, they might not take you and your business very seriously. Also, if you are a financial advisor who goes around wearing casuals, you are not conveying an appropriate image of yourself.

It’s common knowledge that we form our opinions of people within the first few minutes of meeting them; the same is true for businesses. When potential customers first learn of your company, they make assumptions, so you want to market your business in a way that ensures that all of their assumptions and opinions are positive.

The key is to develop and maintain a professional image that’s consistent with your business most of the time. That means even going to the supermarket or running errands; after all, you might bump into a customer or client, right?

In business, we want others immediately to recognize our presence as being self-assured and thoroughly competent. Professional presence is a blend of poise, self-confidence, control, style and savoir-faire (sureness in social behavior) that can empower us to command respect in any situation.

WHAT’S YOUR IMAGE IQ?

An effective wardrobe and business image is achieved by taking your internal credentials and making them more visible. This is especially critical for the self-employed. It is the most powerful and visual means you have of framing and demonstrating your education and experience to the outside world.

It links your skills and competences with how others perceive you. It will immediately establish your credibility and also give you a powerful competitive advantage.

Here are some items to consider everyday before you dress for work. Remember, dress to fit not only your physique, but the environment as well.

WOMEN:

Add a jacket, cardigan, or suit to create a dressier and more formal business look. Consider color selection. Black, navy, dark brown and deep shades of gray create the most authoritative looks. Red, hunter green and cobalt blue are also powerful, and add more visual interest. Pastels are light and feminine and mix great with authority colors. They are also more expensive and time-consuming to maintain than darker colors, so purchase with caution. Select high-quality, comfortable fabrics. If the fabric is wrong, the garment would never be right.

Understate accessories. Jewelry should not be overdone. Haircut and color, plus makeup and nail grooming are essential. But again, less is more. Neutral hosiery (stocking/socks) is most professional. Opaque hosiery is more casual. Your shoes should match or be darker than the hemline (the line formed by the lower edge of a garment). Most women wear the same three pairs over and over, so quality, not quantity is important.

MEN:

The suit is still the power look, if that’s what you wish to create. Add a coordinating blazer or jacket over a shirt and trousers, tp dress up a casual look.

Traditional suit colors have remained the same for years: grey and navy. Add texture or patterns to create interest and character. Business casual is generally khaki trousers with a contrasting shirt color. Darker cotton golf-shirt colors will look worn-out more quickly, because the color will fade. Fabric accounts for two-thirds of the cost of a garment, whether it’s a suit or casual shirt. Although it costs more for finer fabrics, they drape and launder better and will hold their shape and resist stains better.

The only acceptable jewelry for a man is a watch. Own two: a dressy one for traditional business clothing and a casual time piece for informal attire. Shoes should match or be darker than the trousers. The belt should match the shoes. Both should be in leather not vinyl or man made.

It may seem obvious, but a professional image includes an easy-to-care-for hairstyle, clean hair (this is an understatement), a face devoid of tatoos or piercings and business attire. It also includes:

– Being meticulously groomed,
– Being immaculately dressed,
– Having a firm handshake,
– Looking people right in the eye,
– Introducing yourself to others,
– Addressing people by their name,
– Showing good manners,
– Having good posture.

Our objective in meeting others is to establish comfort, trust and rapport and it’s not always easy. As your business expands, your business identity will evolve. New ideas, services, and products will constantly emerge as your business becomes a dynamic, growing force in an ever-changing marketplace.

Remember, as a small or micro-business owner (which employs fewer than ten people or less), you are your business. So when you are marketing your company, you are really promoting yourself. Your customers will not know about you unless you tell them. Regardless of the cultural pressure to conform and remain quiet about your achievements, it is important that you talk your talk and walk your walk.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

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