About 1 year ago I was selected by the Professional Women Network (based in the USA) to co-author a book called “You’re on Stage! Image, Etiquette, Branding & Style”. It was released on May 15th 2007 and I am proud to say that my chapter “Branding and Impression Management” was selected as the first chapter of this book. In this e–letter a sneak view of this chapter. The book provides powerful guidelines on image, brand, etiquette and first impressions. To view or buy online click here.
Do you want to change your job? Apply for a promotion? Ask the cutie on the third floor for coffee? ... But you can’t cause you lack confidence! Confidence is fundamental to achieving professional and personal success. If you wish you could command more confidence–read on ...
“Power, Poise and Presence”

If you feel you/your staff are in need of personal re–branding contact us for a tailor–made programme that will assist you and your colleagues to do exactly this. Obtain individual feedback and strategies to make your visual communication and self–branding a powerful and influential tool in today’s corporate environment.

Contact us at Professional Impressions
Tel: 011 467 5126   Email: prof–imp@mweb.co.za   Web: www.profimpressions.co.za
Are you a Powerful Brand?
In business, what are people buying? Your services, your products? I don’t think so! People buy YOU – YOU are the purchase! You are the brand!
So, be honest, how are you currently branding yourself?
Are you the “Brand of Choice
or are you a “No Name brand”?
In today’s competitive marketplace, it is essential to maintain control at all times over how others see you.
Example: Imagine if someone came to sell you the latest IT software and she was dressed in an 80’s styled suit, with big shoulder pads and bigger hair (a la Sue Ellen Ewing from Dallas days). Would you think this person was up to date in the latest IT trends?
“If you do not believe the messenger,
you will never believe the message.”
Essentials of a Succesful Brand
When you are promoting, marketing and selling yourself, you need to take these essential criteria into account to create the best tailor–made mix for you:
Consistent Quality
Often a manager will call me and say, “Please get Tracy to dress appropriately – she looks as if she was dragged in by the cat. I don’t know what has happened to her, she looked great for her first month here–she has never looked the same again”.
Consistent quality is non–negotiable. If you arrive at work one day and your colleagues keep asking you if you are going for an interview, it’s a sign that your image may be inconsistent.
Create a consistent, quality image by:
  • Having a grooming buddy – a colleague that can be 100% honest with you daily about your image and impressions. She may say, “That olive green shirt is very stylish but the colour does not suit you”.
  • I have chosen ________ to be my grooming buddy. (Fill in)
  • Always buy the best you can afford. Surround yourself with a halo of quality – from your pen to your filofax.
  • Enlarge your contact base – network to gain fresh ideas and different ways of doing things.
  • Find yourself a mentor, someone you can learn from, or aspire to be like. An excellent example is Minister Trevor Manuel. His image is impeccable and does not falter even if he his present at a golf event. Write down the name of your “quality mentor” ____________.
  • Identify your strengths, talents or gifts and invest in them. What would you like to be known for?
    • Accuracy and detail–orientated? Request jobs that highlight these skills and that will bring these attributes to others’ attention.
    • Warm and empathetic? Nurture this and it will draw others to you.
    • Articulate? Go on a Presentation course to further hone this skill.
  • Look to develop you own unique style signature, so you are immediately identifiable – a stunning haircut, a gorgeous fragrance, interesting shoes.
  • If a strategy is not working, don’t be scared to re–evaluate and change it.
  • Adaptability ensures durability. An admirable quality is the ability to be flexible in a fast paced, ever changing world.
  • Constantly update your knowledge base about your job and your industry.
  • Remember, brands are not built in a day.
Small changes – big results
Every interaction (how you greet someone, your eye contact, the clothes you wear) serves to create the impression that builds your self–branding.
The trick to creating a powerful and lasting brand is to start by making some of these changes to your work life and watch the feedback you receive ...
  • Learn to brand yourself with the message you want to portray. Your business success will depend on how well you are able to do this. So, you cannot subconsciously say: “I am a fun loving girl but I want you to take me seriously in business”, wearing a lacy camisole with a tartan mini skirt, stilettos and holding a cell phone with a Barbie cover. Those two messages (fun vs serious) are inconsistent. At all times, your impression tools, i.e. your grooming, dress, etiquette and body language, need to support the brand message you wish to send out to the world.

  • Which one of these 2 women say “I’m fun loving-the life of the office party.”

    Which one says “I am professional, I will handle your business seriously.”

  • From now on, whenever you buy any item of clothing or grooming you need to ask yourself: “Is this item saying that I am professional, consistent and responsible?”
  • “Fake it ’till you make it". Always appear self–assured, even if you don’t feel it or if you are having an “off” day.
  • Don’t become predictable – when last did you update your hairstyle? Keep updating your look from head to toe. Take a page from the image chameleon –Madonna.
  • Don’t fidget. If you are in the habit of twirling your hair, chewing your nails, clicking your pen, or looking up at the wall clock, make a conscious effort to fold your hands on your lap or place them on the table.
  • When interacting with others, always act as if you were the gracious guest at a party thrown in your honor. Shake hands with everyone, repeat their names and make eye contact with each person in turn.
  • Learn to accentuate your good qualities and downplay the negative ones, while retaining your unique personality.
Command Confidence
Do you envy a colleague when she makes a proposal or walks into a meeting, looking calm, assured and confident? You wish you shared this confidence, but convince yourself that its either something you’re born with or not. Confidence is not necessarily inborn; it can be learnt and taught.

The most confident appearing people are likely quaking in their boots at times – they are just supremely good at masking it.

So what is confidence? An absolute trust and security in your abilities, competencies and capabilities. It is not arrogance – arrogance is a defence the non–confident hide behind.

Confident Image
The way you look affects the way you feel. Be aware to the messages of confidence or a lack thereof that you may be sending out with your image.

Great Confidence Lack of Confidence
Buy clothes that suit your body shape and your work industry. Buying trendy clothes that don’t suit your shape, personality or work environment.
Making a wardrobe checklist. What are you missing? What do you toss out? Making rash and costly image decisions, without reviewing what you need.
Add confident colours to your wardrobe that suit you! Wearing bland, boring, non–assertive colours. Message = “I have no confidence”
Identify Confidence thieves
These are the people that sap you of all your confidence. Read through this list and tick who you believe could be sapping your confidence energy:
Close Friend/friends
Work managers
Once you have identified the individuals that sap your confidence–
  • Try to limit your contact with them–if you can
  • Ask the person to more supportive of you
  • Refuse to let their energy bring you down–act with an overdose of positiveness
“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of both worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true”
James Branch Cabell
Facing your fears
Fear undermines confidence. 95% of what you fear never happens! If you have ever asked yourself “What if I apply for that promotion and don’t get it?”, “What if I go to the function and I don’t know anyone?”. Then you need to play:
    The Game of Consequence
  • Choose something you fear at work
  • Add it in the space ... What if___________happened. What would be the consequence?
  • Then, if that happened, what would be the result?
  • How would I cope with this?
  • Could I use humour/irony to enlist sympathy?
  • What would be the final consequence of my fear coming to pass?
When you play the event through you will finally get to a point you say “So what?” You have faced your fear and you can move on with confidence.
Start a Confidence Club
Identify people you know (friends, colleagues, family members) that ooze self–confidence. When you face situations where you need a boost of confidence phone one or two and ask how they would handle the situation. It could be confronting someone of authority on the way they speak to you or asking for a raise.
Applying some of the above tips will allow you to gain more self–assurance. Before long you will realise you have created a new found confidence.
Professional Impressions offers a dynamic half day workshop
that will encourage you to:
Command Confidence
Having a confidence tune–up – Fake it while you make it, The confidence recipe, Confidence Wobblers, What are your confidence levels? Handling criticism, Knowing what knocks you off your perch, Weeding out non–confident words, Have confident conversations, The confidence tool Kit, Habits of famous confident people
Focusing on Attitude Renewal – the way we think
Projecting a Positive Self–Esteem – the way we feel
This workshop will let you discover a new powerful perspective on life. You will learn to stop reacting and start creating while applying the secrets of the most confident people to your everyday life.
Contact us at Professional Impressions
Tel: 011 467 5126   Email: prof–imp@mweb.co.za   Web: www.profimpressions.co.za
Professional Impressions would like to credit the following for information and images used in this article:
Brand SenseMartin Lindstrom
Simon Says ... “Experience is the Best Teacher” Simon T Bailey
How to Become a Rainmaker Jeffrey J Fox
It’s Not How Good You Are Its How Good You Want to Be Paul Arden
It’s Your Move Cyndi Maxey and Jill Bremer
Unlocking the Secrets of Successful Women in BusinessLinda Brakeall and Anne Wildermuth
www.changing minds.org
Develop Confidence – transform the way you live and work. Ros Taylor
Should any of your friends, family or colleagues be interested in Professional Impressions and the services we have to offer, please feel free to pass this on to them.

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