Thursday, February 21, 2013

4 Ways Your Image Could Be Holding You Back in Business

Believe it or not your image is a crucial component of whether you are successful or not in business. While it may seem that some people are naturals at "working the room" or have "the gift of gab", everyone has an equal opportunity to make a great impression in business. Here are four questions to consider when it comes to improving your business image.

• How Do I Look?
Whether you like it or not, first impressions are formed within the first 7 seconds of meeting someone; whether negative or positive and 57% of that impression is based on how you look.

Be authentic; your style should be fresh and modern yet age appropriate. You should own your look and be very comfortable in your skin. If you are not, it will be painfully obvious, thus making your prospect or partner uncomfortable as well.

Now, while makeup is a great beauty enhancer; it's all about looking great for your age. Too much makeup may give the impression that you are trying to hide something, while wearing too little makeup will seem as if you haven't invested much time into your looks. It's all about balance.

Your apparel should be in alignment with the occasion. It's totally understandable if you want to stand out from the crowd with your own signature style, just be sure that you dress for your shape and body type; remember, size doesn't matter, shape does.

• Is it time for an upgrade?
At times, it is critical to the lifeline of your business to upgrade. Growth is imperative for successful businesses. Going to the next level isn't always easy, so remember, you can only grow when you are uncomfortable.

Sometimes you just outgrow old habits and when you do, its time to expand your mindset. Do some brainstorming with a mastermind group and think outside of the box, and you'll open yourself up to a whole new world.

You may need to upgrade your circle of associates to move to the next level. Be sure to do this next step before you branch out, you'll feel a lot more comfortable and confident when you do.

Upgrade your image, if you've been wearing the same hairstyle, makeup and clothes for the past five years or more; It's time for a makeover. This can be drastic; however it doesn't have to be. It's just time to change up the energy.

Last but not least, you may need to shift your environment. Are you happy with where you spend the majority of your time or do you love the atmosphere you're in? If not, start making some changes and I guarantee you'll get some new results.

• Am I minding my manners?
Etiquette will take you a long way in business. I know that showing up should be a given; however you wouldn't believe how many "professionals" and "business owners" fall short in this area from time to time. Being organized will help you to be on time and prepared when you do meet with your client or prospect.

If you are not going to make it to a meeting or if you are running behind schedule, always be courteous and call ahead of time to inform the other party; however, habitual behavior will send signs of disrespect for the other person's time and may be held against you in the future.

• How well do I communicate?
Be positive and upbeat, no one wants to do business with a Debbie Downer. Leave the sarcasm at home, many prospects are turned off by it and may not consider you a good fit.

Always make really good eye contact, smile and be mindful of the unspoken language your body is speaking, a firm (not crushing) handshake is very important regardless of the other parties position, trust me, this speaks volumes.

Listen and probe. You can only be a resource to your prospects if you are aware of their problems; thus you must probe and be interested in providing a solution to their challenges.

What's your follow up strategy? Always leave the lines of communication open by taking the initiative to follow up with a phone call or an email.

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