Create a Climate for Success by Mastering Your Total Image - Part 2

In part 1 of this series, we discussed your Total Image and the first of several essential components ? Your Hidden Image. This month, we'll continue discussion your Total Image with the second component: Your Reputation.

Your Reputation can be defined several ways ? according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, there are three main definitions:

1. The general estimation in which a person is held by the public.

2. The state or situation of being held in high esteem.

3. A specific characteristic or trait ascribed to a person or thing, i.e. a reputation for courtesy.

All that said, your Reputation is one of the most valuable assets to your business and personal life. You must know ? and be concerned with ? what others are saying about you. Not to the point of obsession, but it is important to know how you are seen in your community.

One of the fastest ways to destroy a good reputation is to become known as someone who does not follow up their words with actions. Too often in today's society, business professionals who you hold in high esteem do not earn that standing because they don't follow through on what they say they will do.

How do you treat your clients? Can you state confidently that you treat all your clients with equal respect and courtesy? When trying to establish rapport and a relationship with a potential or new client, it is essential that you listen thoroughly and completely to what they are saying as well as what they are NOT saying.

Even after you've established a rapport with a potential client, never leave them feeling brushed off or unappreciated ? they are likely to dwell on the experience and as in our previous installment, not only feel badly about how they've been treated, but tell 7 others about the treatment they received.

One of the ways you can encourage trust, respect and courtesy with clients is to maintain eye contact during your conversation. Your eyes are one of your most essential and important communicators ? they speak volumes without you ever saying a word.

Looking your client straight in the eye communicates confidence, honesty and interest ? all qualities you'd like them to associate with you and your business. Try to take brief breaks in your eye contact so the interaction doesn't become confrontational ? you also need to gauge the other person's reactions and allow them time to respond.

Your Visual Image is equally important to your success as an entrepreneur ? though you may see certain clients infrequently, there are many other aspects of your Image that must be dealt with: how your promotional materials reflect your business status and expertise, and even how you answer the phone.

As a rule of thumb, consider investing one month's income (not profit, income) per year into your professional wardrobe. Knowing you look good will go a long way toward helping others to treat you with the respect due your professional status. Take some time to choose your professional wardrobe, and build in some time and dollars for inevitable alterations.

Clothing is mass-marketed to an 'average' body type, size and height that may not even exist outside the world of 'fit models' used to check garment construction. If you are like me and have a 'real' body versus one of those airbrushed creations from a fashion magazine, you'll find that most clothing won't fit perfectly off the rack. Take the time and invest in alterations that won't add a ton to the cost of your clothing, but will make a huge difference in how you LOOK in the clothing.

Every day, you can make slight and subtle changes in your look that will move you from 'everyman' or 'everywoman' into the 'stylish, professional and business-appropriate' category. Take something you've previously worn (or recently purchased) and study it in detail.

This could be a suit, shoes, undergarments or accessories ? try to see them with new eyes and use new combinations to create fresh looks with little or no cash outlay. Use your accumulated knowledge to purchase a business appropriate but different look the next time you go shopping, and don't forget ? there are image professionals all over the U.S., Canada and the world who stand ready to assist you in creating a Total Image that reflects your professional status.

About the Author: Dianne M. Daniels is an Image & Color Coach, Consultant and Professional Speaker, and the author/publisher of "Polish & Presence: 31 Days to a New Image". She has helped individuals refine and define their personal and professional image, along with corporations and organizations. Learn how to create your Personal Climate for Personal and Professional Success at http://www.imageandcolor.com

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