Does your looks matter in business?
Since light travels faster than sound, you are always seen before you are heard. It's the quick impression someone has of you that can be the lasting one.
Today, I dressed up for work. My hair is done, my makeup is on, my dress is bright blue (my brand's colour) and fitting, my high heels are Giorgio Armani, my jewellery a combination of Tiffany's and Cartier - I look good. Well, as good as I am going to look based on what I am born with.
I have never thought of myself as pretty, but I am aware that I can make myself well presented to the point where people think I am pretty. It's all an illusion - although I celebrate the differences of one person to another and 'what makes us different, is what makes us beautiful'.
I live next door to my office building (the joys of St Kilda Road), and my very short stroll through the park not only had a number of people stare at me, but I also received 3 compliments by the time I left my lift on ground floor to the time I made it to coffee shop in my building and this was all before 6.30am in the morning.
Why? Because of how I looked and how I hold myself. You don't need to be traditionally beautiful to attract stares or to receive a compliment. But you do need to think about how you look, your stance and your body language.
Books are judged by their covers. Houses are sold on curb appeal. And an impression of a person is judged on how they dress or behave.
We can however control how we are portrayed: wardrobe, grooming and non-verbal communications (body language) are apparent aspects of who we are to the rest of the world.
They can frame us as competent, intelligent, elegant, gracious, powerful and anything else that we choose or do not choose in some cases to be seen as.
When people see us for the first time, they decide within 30 seconds as to whether we are intelligent, competent, successful, sophisticated, trustworthy and what our social heritage may be.
Before we go to a business meeting, we all should think about how we would like to be viewed. It's so much more than just about what we have to offer as a business. It's about what type of impression we make to our audience. If I am in 'sales mode' then I take particular note of how I dress. I ensure that every detail is taken into account and within 30 seconds of meeting my prospect, I ascertain through how they look, and their body language, as to how I will address them.
If they are from the country, I ensure that I take into account their casual approach to business and the importance of trust and honesty.
If they are a corporate, I always wear a full suit and a very tailored conservative look.
And, if they are in fashion, I pull out a "not so over the top" fashionable outfit that says that I understand fashion, but am not obsessed by it.
In the office, I know when I wear jeans to the office with a T-Shirt, my staff treat me differently then when I wear a suit and makeup.
So, next time you are going to a meeting with a prospect, pay special attention to your wardrobe, grooming and body language. It's a deal breaker!
Mellissah Smith, in Atlanta.