Think about why we’re always told not to judge a book by its cover.
That’s how our minds have been conditioned to react when first exposed to something or someone new.
We can’t help it.
Though you may catch yourself making a snap judgement and will likely give a person the benefit of the doubt, a conclusion about them has already been drawn.
Are you familiar with the fight or flight response?
Snap judgments are a byproduct of that.
Our brains are hardwired to react rapidly in order to protect ourselves from potential harm.
In this case, when we’re networking or socializing we’re trying to decide whether or not this person will take advantage of us and if what they’re saying is actually true.
Once it’s clear that this new person is trustworthy, the next thing our minds are trying to decide is whether or not they’re competent.
Does what they bring to the table work in your favour or not?
Here’s a few things worth keeping in mind since we only have one shot to make a good first impression.
It’s Your Visual Business Card (mindset):
Have you ever been handed a poorly made business card?
It doesn’t feel very good, does it?
The impression that it creates with you isn’t one that evokes confidence.
It’s like the person that gave it you is cutting corners and doesn’t realize how they’re being perceived.
Your image is NO DIFFERENT.
How you present yourself says a lot about what you value. It can even be a reflection of your work ethic.
A lack of attention to detail in your appearance is often interpreted as, “This guys doesn’t care enough about his image, why would he care about the work he does?”
According to Forbes Magazine, 3/4 of executives said in a recent survey that “unkempt attire” hurts a man’s chances of advancing his career.
No advancement means being stuck in the same position for years.
Unless you love your work, is that something that you really want?
Personal Branding (how others perceive you):
Wearing a poorly fitted outfit and you risk looking out of shape or sloppy.
Showing up over-dressed in an expensive designer suit and you risk looking flashy.
This one’s tough to get right but once your personal brand is established, you’ll always be associated with certain characteristics.
Take a second to think about the qualities you want associated with your image.
Let me guess…
Successful, fun, outgoing, intelligent, creative, confident, etc.
The list goes on.
Here’s the thing, you have complete control over what your personal brand can be!
What’s even better is that as your tastes change, your personal brand can change with it. Nothing’s set in stone.
The tricky part is figuring out how you can deliver your intended message through your style while remaining true to your personality.
How It Affects Your Earnings:
According to Forbes Magazine, obese men are paid $4,772 less per year than their coworkers who are average weight.
Those who work out actually earn an average of 9% more than employees who don’t.
Take a second to think about this…
You’re the one in charge of hiring, promoting, or dishing out raises. Two equally qualified candidates are competing for a promotion. One in decent shape, the other noticeably overweight.
How would you approach this situation? Who would you be more likely to give the promotion to?
Usually the inner dialogue of anyone in charge of decision making is that, “If this person has trouble taking care of their own health, how can they handle more responsibility at work?”
Is it possible that this thought crossed your mind too, even for a second?
As harsh as it may sound, all of us are constantly being judged.
This means that we’re basically under a microscope throughout the day.
Of course most of the time it’s not very obvious, but it does happen. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a New York Times Bestseller about it (Blink).
That’s why one of the first things most CEOs do in the morning is workout.
How You Can Take Advantage Of This:
First and foremost, everyone has a unique body shape and you need to dress accordingly.
Have your measurements taken and build your wardrobe around clothes that fit comfortably close to your body without restricting your movement.
Doing so can create the impression of being in better shape and can even make you look taller.
If you’re always on the go and have very little time to dedicate to taking care of your clothes, just have them dry-cleaned instead.
Not only will this extend the lifetime of your wardrobe but it will also save you the headache of having to wash and iron them.
Though it is an added expense, consider it an investment in your career.
Remember that executives pay close attention to details like whether or not your shirt’s wrinkled and clean.
At this point you have a clear idea of how your style can affect your bottom line.
The impression that people get when first meeting you can either work in your favour or against you.
Remember that it’s not always about wearing 3-piece suits and expensive shoes.
Your style has to be an authentic reflection of your personality. It also has to be appropriate for the environment you work in.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
While you’re here, you should check out the free style guide below…