You walk into a Mercedes dealership
and you've met by a scruffy sales person in an ill-fitting suit, shoes and greasy hair.
He may be exceptional at what he does.
He may have 20 years of experience.
He may be the most trustworthy person to ever grace the face of this earth.
Something here is off.
You don't trust him.
Well... we know this would never happen at Mercedes
Because Mercedes is about luxury, sophistication and elegance.
I mean, their tagline is "The Best Or Nothing". That says it all.
As a business, you invest so much thought, effort and capital into your branding to ensure you send a clear message about who you are, what you do and why you do it.
So why is it that so many business owners allow their own personal image and that of their team let the business down?
I may be stating the obvious here, but let's get this out of the way:
You MUST look the part.
You may have the qualifications and experience, but your image will affect the way you are perceived by others and, sadly, if inconsistent with your brand and purpose, this could sabotage your career.
In today's world you will lose opportunities if you are not considering your personal appearance as an integral part of your brand.
Style hack #1:
Dress like you're about to sign the deal of your life.
Suit up! Not only because someone else may see you, but because the way we dress directly affects the way we perform.
Wearing formal office wear and structured clothes puts us in the right frame of mind to conduct business. It makes us feel more confident and even increase hormones needed for displaying dominance. This in turn help us become better negotiators and abstract thinkers.
Style Hack #2:
A step above.
Dress just one level above your client.
In order to build a good relationship in business, you must be relatable yet professional.
I quote a business growth specialist and mentor who says, "when we meet with clients we dress just one level above them, wearing a suit to visit a cattle farmer would be a bit weird".
Agreed! Showing up in a suit to meet a humble farmer could create some distance and disconnect between you and your client. You don't want to intimidate or come across as arrogant, so avoid over dressing.
A pair of nice jeans and a dress shirt with no tie would be the perfect way to say "I'm professional but approachable".
But, of course, if you're meeting with a corporate client, suit up, wear a tie and polish your shoes.
Style hack #3:
Use details to form trust and authenticity.
FACT: Closing a deal starts with trust and credibility.
You gain your the trust of others when you are completely genuine. And that means looking and feeling like yourself.
If your image is not an honest reflection of who you are, others will instinctively sense inconsistency and it will take you longer to overcome initial barriers and build trust.
I can already hear your objections:
- "But I'm in a conservative work environment, my personal style wouldn't go down very well in a board meeting"
- "I'm a rebellious punk rock fan working in law...this is never going to work".
I hear you!
But what if I told you there are still ways for you to feel authentic in a three piece suit?
A rebellious streak or a passion for bold and dramatic prints may not be appropriate in your field of work. However, you can introduce a representation of these in small doses. For example, a pocket square, an unusual piece of jewellery or glasses with a unique design feature that feel like "you in a nutshell".
You will be surprised at the difference this makes to how you feel and communicate with others.