Judging a book by its cover: Why customers DO judge you by your appearance and how a personal professional branding expert can make ALL the difference
Gill Hicks is a well respected NLP expert and Personal Professional Branding Expert, and it was through Gill that I first got involved with NLP.
Gill helps hundreds of people every year, maximise their chances of success in meetings by making massively important changes to the way they look, act and speak. Gill also runs her own personal branding business, called Positive Potential.
Like you, I was curious, to understand why dressing for success is so important, and how you can improve your chances of success in meetings just by wearing the right clothes. Gill agreed to take some valuable time out of her schedule, to share some of her pearls of wisdom with Eco Business Academy.
Here’s what Gill had to say:-
Eco Business Academy: Gill, Firstly thank you so much for taking the time out to share your views and your experience with Eco Business Academy’s readers. Gill, can you explain to us what an Personal Professional Branding Expert is and why we all need one?”
Gill Hicks: I’d like to start by saying we don’t all need one, Jason! We are born with ‘perfect dress sense’ and it is this dress sense that tells us when we have made the right purchases – they are the items we love wearing, they make us feel good and more confident. Some people are really in touch with this dress sense – they love and wear everything they buy and they always look good.
For most, it is the 80/20 rule, they wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time – it is these people who would really benefit from a consultation. Not only is this type of wardrobe a huge waste of money, but the biggest waste is people going around much of the time feeling very mediocre – what a waste of life! An Image Consultant will demonstrate a wide range of colours, styles, accessories, and textures to harmonise with their client’s colouring, shape, personality and lifestyle so the client can then confidently purchase items that will appeal to their dress sense, will make them feel and project an air of greater confidence.
The image consultant should give advice on dressing appropriately for their client’s working environment and career aspirations. If you have any doubts, then a consultation would be a very sensible investment, reaping huge financial rewards by raising the chances of converting prospects to customers more quickly.
EBA: You work with a wide variety of professionals, and I’m sure there are certain expectations depending on which industry someone is working in. Perhaps it might be useful for our readers to see some contrasting stories, for instance someone in financial services, and someone in Information Technology. What are some common themes?
Gill: Yes, I have worked with thousands of individuals from a huge range of industries. Well within Financial Services there are obviously a wide range of cultures – from back office to front office, traders to H.R. etc and from private banking, hedge funds, investment banking, retail banking and so on. An appropriate style of dress is slightly different amongst all of these, so what could I helpfully say is a fairly common theme?
I see a number of people dressing at a level they have come from rather than investing in the level they are aspiring to. Think of the Tesco Value range packaging versus their Finest range – we believe the quality of the packaging reflects the quality of the product inside – we respond to people in much the same way, it is quite simple really.
So up the quality and aim to dress to the ‘highest common denominator’ for the audience’s culture and prepare to try on dozens of suits until you find one that really makes you feel great – or ideally go for made to measure.
I.T. is another story altogether! I think it is fair to say that appearance will be less influential in meetings for technical, non managerial meetings than in almost any other sector I can think of. However, a good ‘technician’ is somebody who has a certain amount of creativity, is results focused and detail conscious – so think of trying to reflect these qualities in your appearance with particular attention to a high level of maintenance (i.e. everything clean, polished and contemporary).
The common theme I have noticed amongst the IT profession is poor attention to detail in their appearance.
EBA: (Adjusting my tie and checking my hair) Great thanks Gill, that’s really interesting stuff. What sort of motivating feedback from clients can you share with us, after they have come to see you for a consultation? How does it help inner confidence and results in meetings?
Gill: I have a stackful of letters from clients – I keep them all! I hear that not only have clients received far more rapid success than they could have imagined, but the thing I love is hearing how confidence levels have soared – it always gives me a little shiver, and of course it impacts on every part of their lives.
It is difficult to attribute meeting success directly with a client’s consultation, but since first impressions happen within a couple of seconds, and having talked to possibly hundreds of ‘interviewers/prospective purchasers’, I can confirm that in many instances a decision as to ‘this one looks very promising’ or ‘this is going to be a waste of time’ is frequently taken instantly they see the candidate — before the meeting has ‘officially begun’ and that first impression really impacts on what the prospect then ‘hears’.
Appearance and body language is all they have to go on at that first impression stage, so appearance is crucial.
EBA: Wow, well we had better make sure we get it right then. As I’m sure many people reading this won’t have the opportunity to meet with you in time for their next presentation meeting, can you give us two crucial dos and don’ts, that will have an immediate impact?”
Gill: Do have a good clear out of the wardrobe, discarding or putting to one side anything that you wouldn’t want to wear on a ‘good day’. Check you have enough really ‘feel good’ items to be able to ring the changes for up to 3 presentations with the same firm, and diarise what you have worn where as it is easy to forget if you are meeting with several prospective clients.
Don’t wait until you are called for a meeting to race out to the shops and buy something new – it will almost certainly be a mistake if bought in haste. You WILL get meetings, so do some research shopping first and don’t get tempted by buying too early with an ‘it will do’ attitude wait to you find something that makes you feel great.
EBA: We’ll all take your advice Gill! Finally, if someone wanted to find out more about your services, do you have a website they can visit, or a way they can contact you to ask a question or three?
Thank you Jason, and good luck to all your followers!
EBA: Thanks Gill, I’m sure they all appreciate the advice! I’m off to clear out my wardrobe! Now where are those leather trousers…….?