Wednesday, January 30, 2008

First Impressions: 7 Keys To A Million Dollar Image

From the moment you walk in a room, people are immediately forming an impression of the kind of person you are. Those first two seconds can make a difference in whether you will win over an important business prospect.

We'd all like to think that our competence in doing our work is what counts the most. However, you may not have the opportunity even to show the quality of your work due to a poor first impression.
You might say that in today's world there isn't so much emphasis on image. Perhaps clothing is not emphasized quite as much as it once was. But, much of the impression is about our attitude or what it appears that our attitude is. Let's think of some various ways that we present ourselves. I've chosen seven to focus on in this article.
A lot of this is just common sense to most of us. However, we sometimes need a reminder of just how important all of these details are to the success of our business.
As you move into a higher level with your business, you will be dealing with more and more wealthy and savvy individuals who will notice if you are not up to these standards. Some seemingly minor detail could be a real turn off to a potential client and you could lose that account.
1. Handshakes
Handshakes are a traditional greeting in our American business culture. It's important that your handshake is firm and confident. This is an appropriate touch in our business world and it is our only opportunity to have that quality connection. Be sure that you don't have so many things in your hands that you don't have your hand free to be able to extend for a handshake.
2. Body language
Without saying a word, the way we move our bodies speaks paragraphs. How we carry ourselves as we walk says a lot about our confidence and professionalism. And to present yourself as an open and interested person, avoid crossing your arms across your chest. That is a very closed posture, indicating that you want to keep yourself at a distance.
An authentic, warm smile is essential for creating that business relationship.
What we carry with us can give an air of being organized or being very disheveled.
Choose a good-looking portfolio or briefcase that can keep you looking like you have it together!
3. Dress
Your clothing and accessories need to be chosen according to the type of business environment. This can vary according to geographical location, industry, and type of occasion. However, there are certain elements that need to be considered no matter what.
Clothing that fits you well, is in good condition, that is not too revealing, and is clean is always a necessity. Wrinkled shirts give a very poor impression.
Shoes need to be clean and in good repair. That old favorite belt may need replacing if it has started losing its shape and is getting worn.
Jewelry and other accessories should be understated.
4. Grooming
Fresh breath and clean, white teeth are really a welcome part of you!
A clean body without heavy doses of various fragrances is important. Many people have allergies to perfumes and the business environment is really not the place to have you stand out because of your fragrance. Our intention is not to have anything detract from what we are doing.
5. Cell Phones
This deserves a whole category of its own. So many people are talking on their cell phones and text messaging all the time that they sometimes forget that this is not something to do in a business setting. It's time to focus on the people that are there in person and to put your phone on silent and check for messages later. Texting in a meeting is a great way to show how disrespectful you are! And take out that Bluetooth earpiece during business meetings! It looks as though you could be on the phone even if you are not.
6. Punctuality
The ultimate disrespect for others is to have them wait for you when you are late. I know it's difficult to end one task and go on to another meeting and it's tempting to cut time very close. It's such a key piece of your image to be punctual that it is worth it to schedule in a bit more cushion time to avoid the big rush and the negative reception when you show up late.
7. Manners
Standing up when you are meeting someone is critical. This not only shows respect for that person, but it also puts you at their level so that they are not in a power position standing over you.
Table manners may not seem important in our much more casual culture today. However, you never know who is sensitive to excellent table manners and who could be getting a really low opinion of you as an uncultured person. Catch up on the etiquette of table manners so that you can feel confident that you are making a good impression on any of your dining partners.
In Summary:
It's all about presenting yourself as professional as possible, not drawing attention to something other than the business project at hand, and being respectful of others.
These all contribute to how magnetic you will be in attracting new and higher wealth clients. You've put in countless hours improving your business skills. Take a little time to fine tune your own personal package of how you are presenting yourself. It's definitely worth the effort to present that Million Dollar Image!

If you’d like to identify your strengths and learn what kind of impression you are making on those in your work and personal life, you might find the Platinum Rule 360 Assessment helpful. Working with Executive Coach Suzanne Holman, MAEd, you’ll be able to interpret the results and strategize your strengths for Million Dollar Productivity. Receive an Audio Seminar gift and learn more about the assessment at

Friday, January 25, 2008

Leverage Your Strengths for Million Dollar Productivity

Do you know what your strengths and challenges are? Better utilizing your talents and surrounding yourself with complimentary behavioral styles will help put you on the path to a million dollar business.

"My strengths?
Hmmmm. Let me think for a minute."
If you hesitate when asked what your strengths are, you are not alone. What happens for us is that we are so used to being with ourselves that we don't even notice an outstanding trait we have. It takes someone else observing us and actually telling us for us to realize our gifts.

Take a little time to give others feedback as to what strengths you see in them. What can be difficult is listening carefully and really accepting the positives you hear from others. It's all too easy to just say and feel that it's nothing. Receive the gift of acknowledgment you are being given.

Another hazard to appreciating our strengths is that we judge ourselves harshly if we don't have the strengths that someone else has. We are all very different.
Assessments that measure our behavioral styles show that over and over again.

There are many highly regarded tools available including those that have others answer questions about you that will give you another perspective other than just your own. Platinum Rule Assessment is one of these "360 assessments". This term, "360", is used to describe that you are receiving input from the full circle of your business and personal associates.

Recently my older sister and I took an informal assessment measuring our behavioral styles. We found out that we were exact opposites. We each acknowledged that we would like to have characteristics of the other. From sharing that experience of looking at our strengths, we walked away with a greater appreciation for each other and for ourselves.

For years I've been critical of myself for not being more "left-brained" like the rest of my family. These characteristics are also the ones applauded most in school where we are expected to "stay inside the lines" and be very neat and organized.
It's not that I'm terribly disorganized, but I have the judgment that I should do things one certain way. My creativity has me doing things in very different ways from how others might do them.

This can work the opposite way for someone who has trouble being creative. It could be very simple for that person to take care of details effortlessly. Everything is under control and routine is followed flawlessly. But coming up with innovative ideas can be a real challenge.

Some people have the strength of leadership and find it enjoyable to forge the path for others to follow. For these people, following someone else's plan is extremely difficult and confining. Others find being in charge a very uncomfortable place to be. Their forte is implementing what the leader has started.

We need all behavioral styles in our businesses in order to be successful. All of our strengths work together for a stronger whole than we can have when working alone. If you work by yourself in your business, you may need to hire a part-time assistant to perform tasks that are not your unique strength. You can even do this with a virtual assistant who can work for the number of hours you need from his/her own office. Your success will be greater and your satisfaction sweeter when you focus on your best skills.

Take time to reflect on what your greatest strengths are. Take time to recognize them and be grateful. Be aware of any judgment you may be having against yourself for not being good at something. Appreciate your strengths.

If there is an activity that is not your strength, it definitely needs to be delegated to someone else so you can concentrate on maximizing your strengths.

When you focus your efforts on those areas of your business where your strengths are, you’ll find your energy staying much better and your productivity moving you to a million dollar business!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fun notes and photos!

I wanted to share just one of the many notes and photos I received from the
DonorsChoose.Org program. A few months ago I supported a classroom teacher in putting together a classroom library system so that her students would be able to make good use of donated books and also be able to buy more books. They sent me a manila envelope with all the students' thank you notes and some photos of their classroom and their new class library.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Have you emptied your pockets yet?

What are you still carrying in your pockets from 2007 that you could do without in this New Year?

I loved the story our minister told New Year's Eve at the Burning Bowl Ceremony at our church. He shared his experience with having a suit tailored. The tailor was very passionate about his work and told Richard that the suit was a living thing that needed care for it to thrive. He stressed the need for emptying the pockets of the suit before hanging it up at night. Weight in the pockets caused unnecessary strain on the suit, weakening the fabric and seams. Over time the suit would be out of shape and falling apart.

What a great metaphor for the long-held negative emotions that we carry from year to year to year!

This strain of the negative emotions weighs us down, keeping us from thriving and moving forward with what we'd really like to be doing in our lives.

In the Burning Bowl Ceremony we had the opportunity to write all that we'd like to release on a small piece of "flash" paper. Mine was pretty full! I categorized these items under emotional categories. I was surprised that some items were still showing up for me that I felt I had handled long ago. Apparently the residue of these was still hanging around.

What an incredible feeling it was to see the "flash" paper go poof! as it hit the flame in the receptacle!

After going back into the church, we took time to write out what we envisioned for 2008. What an energy-filled experience this was for me! Without the weight of those old negatives, I felt light and energized! We folded these and put them in a self-addressed envelope to be mailed to us in June of 2008.

I invite you to do a similar exercise to free you up for a rich and joyful year. What would you like to leave behind? Things that you do that rob your time? Negative emotions left over from bad experiences?

Why ruin your "suit" by carrying around all that stuff?!?

Aren't you ready to let it go?