Images made me

Studies show that it takes only seven
seconds to make first impression and that’s made up of three components — 55 percent is how you look and how you behave (ie body language), 38 percent is how you speak and mere seven percent is attributed to the words you actually use.
If you make favourable first impression the receiver will continue to believe good things of you on future occasions but getting it wrong can take very long time to overcome — and you may never get the chance to redress the balance.
A study of top decision makers including CEOs and managing directors showed that 93 percent in the UK and 96 percent in the US agreed that image makes or breaks your chances of getting job as well as getting ahead. In today’s highly competitive job market, just being qualified or experienced isn’t enough. The surveyed group agreed that personal presentation was the key factor. And the more senior the person, the more important image was to job success and advancement.
A further study found that attention to image was vital for women trying to break through the glass ceilings that prevent them from reaching the top in male dominated careers. Of the women derailed from the fast track, 35 percent were told that poor image accounted for their problems.
So you can tell people how clever you are, back it up with qualifications and achievements but if your hair’s dirty, your clothes ill-matched and sloppy, your shoes grubby and you never look anyone in the eye — you are hardly going to come across as management material.
Sue Marshall, New Zealander now working as an image consultant in Sydney, believes grooming is the most important factor in creating the right impression.
“Your dress, your grooming, your voice and your behaviour tell people an awful lot about you within minutes of meeting,” she says.
Marshall recommends an image audit, which gives people chance to assess themselves and be honest about what might be letting them down in their career. It covers everything from presentation and social skills, dining etiquette, handshake, posture, fitness and manners to grooming, dress and personal style. “We often find that person’s image is killing their career. Sometimes it can be very easily addressed and inexpensively corrected. But it’s not about learning few tricks so you can fool everyone that you are someone you are not. successful image is honest, it needs to reflect who you are or who you know you are capable of being — and it gives you the confidence to be yourself in any situation,” says Marshall.

Imaging prime minister
Jane Daniels, of Jane Daniels Design, has the task of dressing the country’s first lady and some of New Zealand’s most high profile people. Advising and making clothes for Helen Clark has been challenge for Daniels over the past four years but will obviously become greater one now the wearer is prime minister.
“She’s easy in that she has very good frame, flawless skin, is relaxed and has calm authority. But the challenge is in trying to move her away from the traditional conservative look that people in her position would normally cling to. I believe you can still have authority if you dress in modern, edgy way and Helen is appreciative of that. I want to get her into boots and out of court shoes for winter! Accessories are really important,” says Daniels.
Dressing many television presenters has given Daniels an extra awareness of what works in exceptional situations.
She echoes the importance of creating good first impression. “It has to be one of calm authority and I believe in individual pieces of clothing that work well with other individual pieces so everyone can create their own look. Sometimes they don’t put things together as I would like, garments must go together well and be accessorised correctly. You’ve got to realise that the garments can’t wear you — you wear the garments and your personality has to come through.”
Simplicity of line with elegance and never frivolity form the rationale to Daniels’ design. “Men and women need to realise that minimalism is important and corporate does not need to be boring. Getting people to look right is wonderful — I have seen people transformed in fitting rooms. My job is to get people to feel fantastic about the way they look — then they are confident and can go and get on with their job. If they feel great about themselves then I have done my job.”

Self esteem
On personal basis positive image affects your self-esteem. When you look good you feel more confident — your image affects your performance but it can also affect your company’s performance as whole. Adrian Day, marketing manager of Deane Apparel, says creating an image is now seen as an investment and is being dealt with by human resources personnel and marketing people as projection of the whole brand strategy.
“Clothing and how it is worn is very important and we say that first impression should leave lasting good impression of your brand. If your people are dressed correctly, comfortably and appropriately and they’re smiling — people will enjoy the experience and want to do business with you,” says Day.
Deane Apparel, which began in New Zealand 75 years ago, was originally work wear company but has extended into business and executive apparel creating specific wardrobes for bigger business entities. The company supplies uniforms and clothing for banks, hotels, restaurants, service stations and other major organisations covering corporate executives through to the people on the factory floor. Day says even work clothing needs an image — you’ve go to look as though you can do the job.
And whether we are aware of it or not — that image, even in the form of uniform can make difference to sales. service station which has recently outfitted all staff in new uniform that Day says is “different and little way out” has shaken up the petrol market, improved sales and proved to be great investment.
To create good impression you’ve got to know yourself and feel good about yourself. But equally as important is knowing how other people see you and even more difficult is accepting their assessment and acting on it.

Reputation capital
Reputation capital is term that Mary Cull of Tall Poppies in Wellington believes sums up the impression we leave with others. “It’s knowing what people are saying about you and the reputation that comes with you that lot of people simply don’t know or don’t want to address. There’s Kiwi cringe factor that goes with it, but you have to either use self-appraisal — stop and think how well you are doing or go and get feedback from people. If senior personnel don’t have anyone inside their organisation who can do this then mentor or coach outside the organisation is very useful.”
She says that once you’ve got feedback from people you need to stop and do congruence check — how does the feedback match up with the way you see yourself?
But what if you don’t like what you hear? Cull says “you’ve got to decide if you want to take action — you need to have clear benefits for yourself. What do you need to do to change and are you going to need help to do it? Some things you can do by yourself, some are simple but habits of lifetime might need longer to undo and you may need support.”
Are you going to be hampered by not taking heed?
Mary Cull: “Often in career path, people get by on what they do well but don’t adjust behaviour and there’s always dark side which in the end might be your undoing. Sometimes the very quality which got you where you are can be your undoing. For example someone who is meticulous and pays great attention to detail may have built great career on that quality but in management the trait can be quite devastating.”
Cull says that being vigilant about your reputation capital also means maintenance of your CV and networking. “Your CV should be work in progress —like any other document it needs regular maintenance and attention. Increasing your visibility as part

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