Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Performance & Success Advice Blog Post # 1 - Professional Image

One of my favorite quotes about one's Professional Image is "Appearance is Reality."  This is true on so many levels.  It is a fact that first impressions are such a huge part of building relationships and your appearance and image is what gives this first impression.  I live my life with the idea that at any given moment, on any given day, you never know who you may run into.  This keeps me motivated to ALWAYS have a sharp, pristine Professional Appearance.  There are many factors that go into a one's Professional Image.  

Let's delve into a few (in no particular order) - 

1)  Your clothes, 

2)  Your shoes,  

3)  Your hygiene (smell is important too, don't overdo it with cologne/perfume though!), 

4)  The overall appearance of your clothes, shoes, and your person in general, 

5) The way you carry yourself, etc.  

These are only a few of the factors that create your Professional Image.  Did I miss anything?  Any questions?  Please comment!


  1. How do you find the balance between smelling good, but not smelling too strong?

  2. Very True. you should add links to websites which are helpful for learning how to dress professionally, like those "how to tie a tie" web sites,

  3. Hey Jeff:

    Would you say that, for women, it is better to show up to an interview in a skirt or pants/jacket combo? I went to a Law School tour/conference and was told specifically not to wear a skirt because it looked "less professional" where as I think that some knee-length skirts with matching jackets look just as appropriate. What is your take on this?

  4. Great advice. I also find it important when first meeting someone, for example a potential employer, introducing yourself with a firm handshake while maintaining eye contact is key. First impressions are vital in the business world, and many things can be said about oneself based solely upon their handshake. Do you agree or disagree?

  5. Chymes:

    Great question! From the professionals that I have spoken to, they have always said that it is good to smell nice but that your smell should not permeate throughout the room.

    Simply stated, people should be able to smell your body wash, cologne, perfume, etc. when in your intimate zone (within 1.5 feet of you) and not much further.

    I recommend using good smelling body wash/soaps and deodorants. Be cautious with the use of cologne/perfume and if you wish to use them, apply modestly.

  6. I agree that you must ALWAYS look sharp because even if you have the nicest collection of Burberry and designer clothing that you wear most of the time, that one time you are caught wearing a dirty shirt with holes in it, your whole persona may be thrown off. Since how you do anything is how you do everything, have some respect for yourself and how you look, and the respect of others with come with it.

  7. jbender361: This post is for you! Good idea! - How to tie a tie, step by step - Collegiate Performance Magazine article "Professional Image" by Ash, the Senior VP for Tom James, a Professional Clothing company

    More to come!

  8. Siona: I was with several Tom James "Executive Clothiers" when a professional lady friend of mine asked this questions.

    Their response was that a matching skirt and jacket combo can be just as appropriate as long as the skirt is AT LEAST knee-length as you mentioned, and is not too revealing.

    A word of caution though - the idea of "not too revealing" is all relative. What isn't revealing to one person may be too revealing to the next. Keep in mind who you are interviewing with and the impression they might have! Also, older generations are more conservative and may find it inappropriate or worse yet, offensive.

  9. Many of these things on the list are important. But i believe anyone can put on some nice clothes and cologne and make themselves look nice. What really sets a person apart is body language and engagement in a conversation, especially when a first impression is very critical. Staying engaged in a conversation, not looking bored or slouching over can go a long way when conversing in a professional setting. Speaking clearly and making clear points is critical. As made in point 5, how you carry yourself, i believe is the most important of all the factors.

  10. I showed an associate of mine, Michelle Heath, a Professional Recruiter that has been recruiting college students for over 13 years my post and this was her response:

    "I think you've definitely covered the high points of projecting a professional image, both from an outward appearance and attitude.
    I would add to the wardrobe discussion that you can never go wrong with a conservative business suit in a good-quality fabric. In our industry, basic colors, either black or navy, are the requirement. Only white shirts for men - no trendy colors. Subtle patterns for women are the safe choice. Good quality accessories are important also, including handbags and/or briefcases and classy jewelry or a watch. Your introduction also plays a factor in that your voice projection, use of words (not slang), handshake and eye contact, etc. should display confidence, but not be overbearing. Great job!"

    You can view a preview to her article - "8 Lessons for Successful Interviewing" at

  11. I think what you wrote was interesting but you could explain more about the clothes, does this mean I have to spend a lot to look professional or are there other ways? Keep it up I'm interested

  12. You certainly do not have to spend a lot to look professional. I'll let you in on a couple secrets of mine...

    I love shopping at Burlington Coat Factory, they have GREAT deals. I'm talking ties from 4.99-12.99, button up shirts from 12.99 up, and they even have great deals on suits.

    If you are looking for great quality suits, I also recommend shopping at Outlet stores. Here is a great example. I bought my Burberry pin striped suit, retail price well over $1,000, for $250 at the outlet. Now that's a steal!

    Hope this helps!

  13. Demolishes: I could not agree more!

    Thanks for raising this point because it was certainly one thing I forgot to mention in my post!

    The handshake is a vital component of the first impression. You said it well, you want to have a firm hand shake (not too firm or it will be counterproductive) and maintain eye contact.

    There are many tools and resources on handshakes. One of my favorites is the Definitive Book of Body Language.

    This comment was so profound, Post # 2 is all about the handshake!

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