Remember the days when you could roll out of bed and head to school in your PJs? Ah, yes…the good ol' days, the carefree days, when our image was only as important as the teens next to us (also in their most casual outfits, on their laziest days). Well, as a professional those days are long gone, and if we want to be taken seriously, we have to dress the part.
When it comes to establishing yourself as your own brand, getting new gigs, and building prosperous professional connections, you must remember: YOU ARE A WALKING BILLBOARD.
We’ve all heard about the importance of first impressions. Some of us think this only applies to networking events, interviews, client meetings, and days spent sitting in the office, but this applies to every other time you step outside of your house as well. If you understand the importance of connections, partnerships and relationships then you must also learn to understand the foundational step in those successes: your personal image and style. You can easily build your network simply by showing up (anywhere) looking like you play the part, whether you work in a professional or creative industry.
How people perceive you will often be the single determining factor in their choice to work with you or not. As much as we want to resist this concept, it’s true. To be your greatest success, you must represent yourself and your craft exceptionally well, ALL THE TIME, all day and night, every time you step out of the house. You never know who you’ll meet and where. For instance, I’ve gotten jobs from people I met at coffee shops, at the grocery store, the movie theater, the park, not just at events or prospective client meetings. I’ve gotten styling jobs from men and women who saw me and liked my style. If you can’t make yourself look good, I’ll be damned if I believe you can make someone else look good. And if you don’t represent yourself well, how could a client trust that you would represent them well? If you look like Average Joe all day, how do you expect to catch the eye of Exceptional Joe who’s looking for someone with the skills and talents you have?
People will hire you for YOU more often than they hire you for your RESUME. To this day, I’ve only had to show my resume to people twice (and I had the dopest resume, trust me!)…Usually, people knew me and hired what they knew. Typically, if they meet you and like your vibe, you’re in (somewhere, somehow, eventually).
If people like and trust you, they’ll find a place for you. As soon as something opens up, they’ll call you. But, it’s hard to trust someone with delicate projects, detail-oriented roles or high-level work if they see you don’t take your own image seriously…It’s the secret success of professionalism. Connecting success to image is an innate, natural bias that we aren’t even always conscious of.
One thing to know for sure: You are your own best (or worst) marketing tool. In person, online, social media, over the phone, in pictures, walking down the street, sitting on a chair, etc - You are the first thing someone sees when they see you (obviously, right?). Be cognizant of how you are representing yourself no matter where you are or what you are doing. In essence, the best way to put this is: SLAY. All day. BE THE BEST YOU YOU CAN BE, at all times. Period.