Most high achievers understand that it’s important to be presentable. After all, you are your business; and when prospects meet you, they’ll judge you, your success, and their potential to have success by the things they see. It doesn’t matter if it’s your car, your office, or your clothes. People will form an opinion of you by what they see.
Some may argue that it’s not important what you look like because it’s what’s inside that counts. In the past decade, there’s been a big trend toward casual work environments, especially in the tech space. In companies that are trying to attract a younger mindset, the cultural dress code might be a radically dressed-down environment. But if you’re an entrepreneur, keep in mind not only your employees’ perceptions and desires but your customers’. What kind of business are you trying to attract? And how do you personally feel when you dress for success?
But looking good isn’t just about how others perceive you. It’s really about strategic presence. I devoted a whole chapter to this in my book Strategic Acceleration. An impression of you exists in the mind of every person with whom you have a personal or professional relationship. It is a persona-identifying presence that defines the total perception others have about you. The most important fact about strategic presence is that it produces two possible reactions in others – either voluntary cooperation or various forms of resistance. If people have a lot of positive impressions about your strategic presence, they will be more likely to be supportive of what you want, most of the time. If on the other hand, most of their perceptions are negative, they will be unlikely to support what you want, and may even actively try to undermine your efforts.
So what kind of strategic presence do you have? What do people see when they see you? Do you smile, or do you exude stressful energy? Do you look people in the eye, or are you always looking down and texting, and ignoring those around you? People will often judge you based on the first thirty seconds of an encounter. That leaves no room for error.
Part of building your brand and creating your strategic presence is the way you look. This is beyond vanity; it’s about excellence. Each day you make choices: Do you want to be excellent today? Do you want to think, communicate, and convey a strong, authentic, and positive image? The truth is, most people are not intentional about building their brand and, in fact, are often not even aware that they are creating a strategic presence – either positive or negative.
Every day we are being pre-judged by the way we look, act, talk, and dress. Judging is the only way to assess a situation or the players involved. Judging is simply using our eyes, ears, and senses to determine what we think or believe about someone else. Are you doing your best to convey the best impression? Be wardrobe appropriate, use open body language, and send the message that you are successful and confident.