Your Appearance Matters...
Recently, I was having dinner with a CEO of a major company. She was sharing one of her “off-the-books” evaluation techniques for potential candidates. She said, “Whenever I interview, I look at fingernails and the heels of their shoes. Male or female, are they nicely trimmed and neat? Shoes may be polished and clean but what about the heels? Are they worn out on the sides?” To this CEO, worn heels or unkempt fingernails are sign of a person’s “attention to detail.”
Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB
This not only provides a “first impression,” it seems to be an indication of the person’s attentiveness to detail and level of professionalism. If you don’t take care of your appearance, you could be sending a signal that you won’t take care of the details of your clients.
The first thing I did following this meal was check my heels and my nails. I’ve always tried to maintain a very professional appearance. Sometimes that means a suit and tie, sometimes it means business casual, it depends on the client and the situation. Regardless of the “formal or informal” nature of the meeting, personal grooming is always important.
We all have our own "criteria" by which we make these judgements. For me, when it comes to men’s dress shirts, there is a little button about midway up the forearm. I always check to see if it's buttoned. In my experience, many times people forget to button this. A sure sign of lack of attention to detail. What do you look for in others?
Judith Rasband is the president and CEO of Conselle, the Institute of Image Management. She published a white paper called The Power of Personal Appearance. In her research, she shares the "Image Cycle." The Image Cycle suggests that your clothing and your grooming affect four key areas:
1. The way you think
2. The way you feel
3. The way you behave
4. The way others react and respond to you
This doesn't mean you have to spend thousands of dollars on brand-name designer clothing. If you type in your search bar ‘how to improve your appearance without breaking the bank,’ you’ll find more than enough resources and input.
Clothing that is appropriate for the situation, client or event is important. Making sure your clothes are clean, neat and pressed. No spots, no frayed edges, just pay attention to details. Personal grooming and cleanliness – yes, even on camera – are important details.
Style is a personal choice, but attention to detail and cleanliness are universal. Despite the old cliché that you can’t judge a book by its cover, you’re being judged every time you meet with a prospect or client. Pay attention to details. Even the greatest ideas, the best strategies and the most logical of plans can be derailed by a lack of attention to personal grooming details. Look in the mirror every morning. Would you do business with you? How are your nails and the heels of your shoes today?
Jeff Schmidt is RAB SVP of Professional Development. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.