Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Want More Money? Wear a Suit!

For independent professionals, YOU are the product. When people buy your services, they are in effect buying you. And the way you are perceived by prospects starts with one thing...

…your appearance.

Some time ago, I went to hear a speaker at a group for people looking for jobs. Here I was in a roomful of people looking for ways to improve their chances of getting a job and possibly network with people looking to hire.

Guess who was the only male in the room with a tie on?

You guessed it…me.

And the best-dressed female?

The speaker at the event.

When I brought this up to someone, they looked at me like I was nuts. And I am shocked at how many people I meet who show up in jeans and T-shirts. (I've heard the refrain over and over...but this is Austin, fellow Austinites, don't deluge me with "this-is-Austin-everyone-wears-jeans-justification e-mails)

I'll be honest about this. I hate wearing suits. And I’m not the biggest fan of ties. I wish I could go around wearing whatever I wanted and that people would understand that I am expressing my individuality and appreciate me for it. But unfortunately...

…I live in the real world—not the world of “how-it-should-be”.

You are judged by your appearance. I'm not saying it’s right. I’m not saying it’s fair.

It’s not right and it’s not fair.

But I don’t make the rules.

I’ll give you one example.

I once worked with a speaker who was looking to improve his sales from the back of the room. I told him that if he wanted to increase sales after a speech, he may want to consider wearing a suit when he gave his talk.

“But Carlon,” he exclaimed. “I want people to see me as one of them. I don't want to come off as being ‘corporate’. That's not who I am."

To this I simply replied, “No. You want people to see you as someone worth listening to. And frankly, if you don’t look valuable, then they will treat you as someone with nothing of value to offer."

I challenged him to speak to 2 similar groups. During one speech he could wear what he usually wears, and at the second group, wear a suit.

Want to guess which set of clothes increased his sales?

Needless to say, he wears a suit whenever he gives a talk and wears one at all the networking events he attends.

And that same advice goes for anyone. If you want people to value you…If you want people to take you as a serious professional, then you have to dress like one.

Your bottom line will thank you many times over.

To Your Continued Success,

Carlon Haas

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