Advice for Students

Taking Charge of Your Professional Image

September 03, 2012  |     |   0 Comment

Your professional image is comprised of many components.  It includes your appearance such as grooming, hair, makeup, wardrobe and colours that best suit you.  It includes how you behave such as your manners, etiquette, protocol, civility, people skills, networking skills, and stress management skills.  It also includes your communication skills such as the words you use, your diction, quality of your voice, facial expressions, and body language.

So much of what you do, what you say and how you look contributes to the overall impression you make upon others.  Your professional image influences the way you are labeled by others based on their perceptions of you.  Like it or not, perception matters.

Are you aware of what your professional image is conveying and how others are perceiving you?  What do you stand for?  What do you represent?  How do you wish to be perceived by your colleagues, clients, prospects or community?  What impression are you leaving?

The way you package yourself sends a message about you, your skills, and your organization. It takes only five seconds to form a first impression, and more than half of that first impression is based on appearance. In fact, communication experts believe that 55% of the total message presented by a person during a first meeting consists of that person’s personal appearance.

People make judgments on our values, social status and professionalism by our appearance. It does not matter what position you hold within the workplace, presenting a positive image is hugely important as it matters to your clients, your prospects, your colleagues and your community.

Professional dress for men and women is also a critical component of your organization’s brand. Maintaining a competitive edge requires that you sustain a consistent visual impression with your clients and prospects. You are the ambassadors of your organization, and the way you are perceived by them not only determines how your organization is perceived, but also how your organization is perceived by the community and the marketplace.

Author, John T. Molloy, coined the term, and wrote the book called “Dress for Success.”  His advice is that you should dress one level above your clients. This lets them know you are successful, but not so much as to be off-putting. Dressing in a similar manner to one’s clients helps maintain their comfort level.

YOU have to manage your professional image and be aware that no matter what you are doing, or not doing, you are communicating some type of message to your clients, prospects, colleagues and community.  Is the message you are communicating the opinion you want others to have of you or your organization?  It is only wise to add your voice in framing others’ theories about who you are and what you can accomplish.


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