Why a professional image is important
The image we portray sends an important message to our clients, as well as influences how we feel about ourselves. Therefore, as soloists, we too need to consider our professional image and how to dress for success.
Peter Morgan’s article on dressing for success generated a lot of comments when it first appeared on the Flying Solo website. The writer’s dilemma was what to wear to a client interview and a possible photo shoot – and whether to wear a tie or not. Reader reaction ranged from “I wear a funny bowtie to break the ice” to “my best suit” to “who cares?”
Some solosists do not place too much importance on dressing up for work, particularly when many work from home offices. In my view, however, there are many reasons why soloists should have consideration for their professional image and what they wear.
It is important to feel confident in the way you present visually through what you wear and you need to understand the professional image you are putting across. Image is created by a lot of different ingredients acting together. Physical appearance, dress, voice, manner, the views you express or the fact you don’t express any and the way you react to the people around you. These impressions are made instantly.
Images are so powerful because, however little you may like it, they do say something true about your personality. It’s no accident that you dress, talk and behave the way you do.
"So if you are working from home…Get up and get dressed! Ditch the pj’s and trackie daks. Put on something smart and comfortable."
Some soloists grab the first thing they see in the morning, where as others put some thought into what is the most appropriate outfit for that day. Having an extensive wardrobe of all the latest fashions isn’t really necessary, particularly if you are working from home. Establishing your own professional image and a strong sense of individual personality and style is the key. You may only need a few quality signature pieces that reflect your individual style that you can mix and match. You don’t have to look different every day – you just need to look good and look professional.
So if you are working from home…Get up and get dressed! Ditch the pj’s and trackie daks. Put on something smart and comfortable.
I’ve often read that it helps to have a separate work place in your home, a dedicated office phone line – well it’s the same with your personal brand and professional image. To be making calls, sending emails and acting in a professional way to run your business, means dressing in a professional way too.
Now I don’t mean you need a shirt and tie or a corporate outfit but choose clothes that make you feel like you’re working. You must look smart not only in the eyes of the people you’re around but your own eyes as well. It’s about creating positive energy. Some kick start their day with a run or walk. Why not choose to start work on the high of looking good?
If you are going out to meet a client, dress appropriately for the occasion. Do your research. You wouldn’t go to a client meeting without knowing something about the company. Find out how the boss dresses – that’s a start, or the dress code in that organisation and take it up a notch. After all, you’re there to win the client’s business and that won’t happen if you dress inappropriately or look like a slob.
Think about what they’re looking for. If you’re in finance, law or another professional service, they want you to look like a credible, successful business person. You might be in IT or a creative service. Your potential client wouldn’t expect to see you in a three piece suit, however that doesn’t mean you need to wear jeans and scruffy sneakers.
Think about it – you are part of the package that you’re presenting to the client. People shouldn’t judge us by our outward appearances, but of course they do.
I know a number of professional speakers, it’s the industry I’m in. Let me share an example of two men, both $10,000 speakers. One works mostly with creatives yet has invested time and money into developing his professional image, finding the right cut to suit his body shape, wearing flattering colours and choosing smart casual outfits. He looks like a $10,000 speaker. The other, with a great reputation for the work he does with leading entrepreneurs, still chooses to wear the tried (or maybe tired) and trusted jeans and black jacket.
Is it important? Does anyone really care – what do you think?
I think your appearance does label you, therefore it is important to get the right label!