Your appearance has a direct effect on first, second, and third impressions. I recently attended a networking event and was introduced to an interior designer who looked as if she had just emerged from a wind tunnel on a rainy day. Would I ever hire her? That would be very unlikely. It was not a question of stylish attire or even an extenuating circumstance that might have occurred in the parking lot moments earlier. On the contrary, the designer seemed quite comfortable and eager to exchange business cards. It has been my experience that the external is also an expression of the internal and vice versa. Attention to detail is important and you will be judged on it well before you have an opportunity to even be introduced.
In business, the opinions of others matter. Business etiquette experts suggest you consider the following:
• Do my clothes conform to the company policy or do they push the limits? Too short, tight, low-cut or too loud?
• Are my clothes in good repair? Free of stains, odors, rips?
• Do I dress appropriately for the situation? Is the meeting at Starbucks or a private equity firm?
• Am I prepared for an emergency? Keep an extra outfit in the office, just in case.
Body language is an important part of overall appearance:
• Eye contact– do you look people in the eye. Focus on the area between the eyebrows rather than a stare down.
• Posture- Standing or sitting in an erect manner, conveys a confident image…no slouching
• Gestures- Lean slightly forward to demonstrate engagement and receptivity
• Nervous habits– foot tapping, fidgeting or other unnecessary movements give off a sense of uncertainty.
Advance preparation can make all the difference and you never know who you will be meeting in the course of your day.
©2013 Maureen Weisner