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

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