by Ludovic Tendron
It is not only what you do in business, it is also how you do it and how others perceive you. As an overlooked business strategy, your style should be a valuable and influential business tool.
Does your style enhance your professional relationships, increase your credibility, and convey the right message? Your style needs to reflect an identity that is authentic, attractive, and trustworthy.
Today, Asia concentrates the biggest consumers of luxury brands and perspectives are huge for luxury groups. Local powerful cosmetic groups have emerged. Esthetic and life extension clinics have flourished all over Asia and personal appearance, driven by a digital world, resonates in the life of many people in Asia.
In this context, it is important to remember that a wrong style or appearance (including excessive ones) can have a negative impact on rapport that one tries to develop with others. Here are five good reasons your style should not be underestimated and be well assessed.
1. Your Digital Image Has Become Vital
“Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.”
– Tim Ferriss (author of “Four Hour Week”)
We live in a digital world where multimedia platforms provide the first snapshots of who you are, and what your business is about. From social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to corporate networking websites like LinkedIn, your information and images displayed online are vital to your perceived identity. E-commerce is on an unprecedented upward trajectory and even traditional offline businesses are following the e-commerce curve toward success. Commerce is visual.
Nowadays, we see corporate specializing in digital searches on individuals and recruiters becoming experts in finding talents online. Personal data available on the Internet is turned into useable intelligence.
Ensuring your online image is positive involves creating, monitoring and managing online content, and being digitally current, relevant, and proactive. Not being visible online, and not managing your image can become a serious detriment to your personal and professional reach. In a time when the media landscape is exploding, one cannot afford to be off the radar or negligent regarding the content posted in cyberspace.
2. Your Style as a Personal Brand
“Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”
– Jeff Bezos (entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist)
Your personal brand is how you appear to the world; it is your reputation, style and what makes you memorable; it is the perception people have of you.
Everyone should be concerned about the value and impact of one’s own personal brand. As Ann Bastianelli, Professor of IU Kelley School of Business in the US explained in her TEDx talk early in 2017, “if you have a powerful personal brand, you lead more, you win more and you earn more.”
To shape your personal brand, tap into your values and your passions. Capitalize on your strengths, your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), and your skills. With the right image and focus, you hold the key to unlocking your potential.
Take inspiration from personal branding gurus like Sir Richard Branson, whose personal brand is inseparable from the Virgin brand and could even be seen as stronger than the Virgin brand. The British entrepreneur utilizes his personal success and personal brand to serve his business interests. He has always considered companies with a face as more relatable. Statistics prove him right. In the US, at least a third of the market value of companies is attributed to their CEOs.
3. Your Style is Your Showcase
“Style is what singles out common things.”
– Voltaire (philosopher)
Attraction, in part, lies in the concept of “style.” This is a particular, and often unique, combination of personal characteristics and elements that are expressed in a certain manner. In Latin, the word “style” comes from the word “stilus,” a sharp instrument that creates relatively permanent marks in clay. In short, style is about making consistent marks that last.
Style is not about being on-trend for the sake of it but letting the true essence of who you are shine through. Style must be attractive and influential. Attention should be given to details such as language (verbal or non-verbal), cleanliness, attire, and demeanor. These attributes are what you will be judged on — consciously or not.
Develop a style that is not authentic enough, then you may defeat the purpose. This can put people on the defensive and instill a feeling of mistrust. Your style must not alienate your audience and should reflect who you are. If people can relate to you, then they will more likely be drawn to you and interact with you.
4. A Good First Impression is Paramount
“You can learn as much – or more – from one glance at a private space as you can from hours of exposure to a public face.”
– Malcolm Gladwell (author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking).
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Your appearance creates a myriad of cognitive cues, quick-fire judgments and immediate stereotyping. Stereotypes exist since the old ages as a mechanism allowing quick anticipation of dangers, which can trigger flight or fight responses in extreme cases.
Your appearance is the first information stream people get about you. Humans need brain shortcuts to act quickly to avoid cognitive overload. Thin slicing, whereby an excerpt of expressive behavior can lead to conclusions about a person, is an important consideration when it comes to brief first encounters.
According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, author of Presence, there are two key questions people ask themselves when they first meet another person: Can I trust this person? Can I respect this person?
Research shows that where cues are available, it is possible to predict the personality traits of another person by 70 percent accuracy, compared to 30 percent with limited cues available.
People can sum up who you are based on the cues you give them. Watches are a good example of cues that can capture the minds of people, spark their imagination, and trigger evaluation. By looking at your watch, others can assume if you are punctual, organized, successful, etc. It can also give a perception of your social status. Meanwhile, wearing counterfeit could be perceived as denoting dishonesty.
5. Your Clothes Are An Influencer
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
– Mark Twain (author)
Your clothes project an image and show your taste and personality. They can also reveal or influence your mood and performance.
We often underestimate the power of our clothes and how the street or the office perceives them. The signals sent by our clothes not only impact how people see us but also how they behave towards us. Assessment is often made in the first few seconds of meeting someone.
The purpose of clothes remains practical but many of us use them now to stake out.
There is pleasure in seeing someone refined, polished, and dressed with taste. It certainly triggers positive emotions and helps build rapport. The important thing to remember is that one has to wear appropriate clothes. It is not so much about impressing others but about showing good taste. Being overdressed, for example, can be counter-productive.
There is more to clothing than meets the eye. Psychologists suggest that you are what you wear and that clothing can be an emotive experience. A smart business outfit can make you feel powerful, capable and confident whilst a more casual attire can induce a relaxed attitude.
In the book “Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion” professor Karen Pine, from the University of Hertfordshire in England, revealed a study that showed a group of students who wore a Superman t-shirt significantly performing and ranking higher than the other group of students who donned a plain t-shirt.
Another study published in the Journal for Sport and Exercise Psychology found athletes involved in combat sports competed better wearing the color red rather than those who wore blue gear at the Olympic Games (Dreiskaemper D., Strauss B., Hagemann N., Büsch D.), demonstrating that not only the type of clothes one wears affects performance but also the colours one chooses.
Conclusion: Your style can reveal a lot about you. In a time when visual content is of greater significance, taking control of your image and being aware of the impact of your style is crucial.
You can easily enhance your personality with polished style, but keep in mind that you have to remain authentic to be credible and remain memorable.