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Let’s talk about how you look. We all realize that your personal presence effects how others perceive you. That’s common sense. If you walk into a job interview at a corporate level in a t-shirt and flip flops, you’re probably not going to be taken seriously. Unfair? Sure it is, but that’s how the world works.

One of the best things I ever did was upgrade the level of clothes that I wear and in public for business situations. For years I thought I could get by appearing in clothes that weren’t as nice as they should be. It wasn’t as though I couldn’t afford nicer clothes; I just never really realized that I was being judged by potential customers because of them.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what was happening. In 2008 I hired a professional image coach to clean up my act. She helped me realize that perception is reality, and that the people I was targeting didn’t respond to what I was wearing. This is a VERY important point. You need to think about who you are trying to attract when you’re deciding what clothes to wear.

In other words, who is your audience? For me, it is small business owners who want to hire me for consulting and corporate event organizers who want to bring me in to speak at their events or for training. These people have a certain image (brand perception) in their head of the person they want to work with. In my case, they wanted a well-groomed, well-dressed, professional looking businessperson who they would feel comfortable working with, or presenting to their audience. So that’s what I did. I upgraded my image and have since quadrupled my business and speaking success, because all of a sudden, not only was my message good, my appearance matched their idea of what I should look like.

Again, who is YOUR audience? If you are trying to brand yourself in the surfer community, you’re probably going to waste money on a custom three-piece suit. They won’t relate. The best advice is to dress like your customers, because human beings want to interact and work with people just like them. So really think about it. Who are the people you’re trying to influence? What is it that they want to see you look like? Figure that out, and then do it.

Thomas Mulready runs a website called CoolCleveland.com. What I love about Thomas’s personal brand is that you will always see him wearing the same old-fashioned bowler hat, no matter what time or day it is. In fact, if you’re walking down the street and you see a person 100 yards away with his back to you, you can instantly tell that it is Thomas. Now that’s personal branding.

What can you wear to stand out and be memorable? Michael Jackson had just one glove…just saying. But beware of doing it just as a gimmick. An example would be starting to wear a cape to your speaking gigs. If you don’t really believe in the cape and have a story behind why you’re wearing it, then it’s just going to come off as a gimmick. And gimmicks don’t last. Be authentic.

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What Is Personal Branding Copyright © by jim F. Kukral & Murray Newlands. All Rights Reserved.

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