Professional Image on Goalsetting

or If It Was Easy, the 99% Would Hold the Nation’s Wealth

Most of us have dreams of how we’d like our careers to develop. Then, we go to work, do a good job and wait for our dreams to materialize. And we wait and wait some more.

Then, one day, retirement papers arrive and it dawns on us that our dream was never fulfilled. Goals! We never wrote down our goals – our plan for success.

Less than 15% of the population takes the time to actually write down their goals. Almost 100% of successful people do take the time to write them. They understand the importance of having a roadmap. They also understand that it is no easy task and it requires time and commitment.

The biggest challenge is taking that first step – just getting started. It requires making a conscientious decision to set aside the time to develop a plan and a commitment to follow it. However, for most of us, the very idea of setting aside a few hours some weekend is more like wishful thinking than something that is really going to happen. And maintaining the focus to follow-through can get overridden by the day-to-day challenges that life brings.

To get the job done, break the goalsetting task into bite-sized pieces. If you will commit to spending fifteen minutes each day – you can use some of your lunchtime – you will have a clear and concise roadmap to your goals in just a few of weeks. Really! What’s more, that fifteen-minutes-each-day exercise will get you in the habit of spending time, each day, on bringing your goals to fruition.

Ready? I’ll help you get started.

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Professional Image – It’s More than the Power Suit

Business Card

Professional Image includes peripherals like business cards

When most people think of professional image, they think of their clothing choices; should they wear red or orange, straight-legged jeans or boot-cut.

But image is not just about clothing choices. In fact, it is not just about personal appearance. It also includes what I like to call image peripherals. These image peripherals are items outside of your personal appearance that affect how you are perceived professionally.

In the Campaign for Success workshop, I talk about making sure your business cards and marketing material are in tip-top shape before you hand them out. But, it is not just making sure they are clean and not bent up, be sure they well designed, provide all of the pertinent information and are printed on the best paper, in the highest resolution that you can afford.

If it is within your budget, hire someone to design your material. If not, there are software programs that can help you. Be sure your business cards contain at least:

  • Company name
  • Your name and title
  • Address (if you are a home-based business, it is okay to leave this information off)
  • Phone numbers including fax if you have one, cell if you want to use it as another way to reach you
  • Email address (if you don’t have an email address, get one; there are some free or really, really inexpensive internet providers out there.)
  • Website address (again, if you don’t have one and you are self-employed, get one)

If you are printing your own business cards and marketing material, maintain a professional image by using business cards that have the clean edge and brochure paper that is pre-scored. For a sharp, crisp image, use the highest or best quality setting on your printer. It will use more ink, but it is worth it if it makes you and your business look more professional.

Remember, your professional image includes the peripherals, so make sure yours put you in a professional light.

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Your Virtual Professional Image

First impressions are long lasting impressions.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. But that first impression isn’t always made face-to-face. More and more, the first impression is made in the virtual world – via Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and a myriad of other social networks.

Think, for a moment, how many times you have “googled” a person or company just to get some idea about them – some initial impression about them. Your impression was made within 5 seconds based purely on sight. On sight only, you decided to learn more or move on.

That is exactly what happens when someone views your social media profiles. Potential employers, clients, customers will view your twitter, linkedin, facebook, et al profiles and in 5 seconds (or less), make a decision to contact you or move on. Keeping that in mind, be cognizant of the pictures that your post for your profile picture.

Because you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

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Animal Prints & Your Professional Image

Animal PrintOne of the season’s fashion trends is animal prints. They are showing up every where, from earrings to shoes. The question is how to wear them and maintain your professional image.

Like all good things, moderation is the name of the game. Resist the urge to wear your animal print from head-to-toe. Balance it with a solid color. If you are wearing an animal print dress, wear a solid jacket (a jacket makes most any outfit more polished, you know) or a “neutral print” jacket such as a close pinstripe. Wear an animal print jacket or sweater over a solid dress. If you have a pair of the (really sharp!) animal print pumps, wear them with a solid or “neutral print” dress, skirt or pair of slacks.
My style.com lookbook has a few of my favorite animal print looks. Some are office-ready; some may require a bit of modification. Check it out for some ideas on incorporating animal prints into your professional image.

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Polished Professional Image – T.H.R.I.V.E.

I attended a panel discussion hosted by The YWCA and Benedictine University entitled Women in the Workplace – Overcoming Obstacles and Getting to the C-Suite. Awesome panel.

On the subject of promotability, Tanesha Pittman, executive director of the Women’s Institute at Benedictine University said we have to T.H.R.I.V.E.

T enacity. Hold fast to your goals.
H umility. In your successes, be humble.
R esilience. Be able to bounce back from setbacks
I nnovation. Explore new ideas; come up with a new, more efficient methods.
V ision. Have a clear plan.
E xpand. Never stop gowing.

Ms. Pittman also advised to network with those who can benefit you. Following these canons will give you the upperhand in your persuit to the C-suite.

One more thing to remember, from Polished Professional Image’s canons, is a quote from designer Kenneth Cole – “Dress the part, unless you don’t want it.”

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The Power of Image – Miss Representation

Thursday’s screening of Miss Representation was incredible! It discussed how the media portrays women and how it affects us. It has a particularly negative effect on young girls’ and women’s self-esteem/self-image as we are constantly objectified in the media.

It brought home what most of us already know – that normal women are held to the fantastical, unrealistic standard of photoshopped models. If we don’t measure up to that standard, we are considered “less-than”. When we are smart instead overtly sexual, assertive instead of submissive we get referred to as, well, canines!

It was an eye-opener; not because it was new information, but because of how complacent we’ve become in monitoring what comes into our homes to our children. If you have a few minutes, check out the trailer below. If you get a chance, go to a screening in your area. If you are able, host a screening and invite some of the teenagers in your life.

Visit the official Miss Representation facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/MissRepresentationCampaign- and their website – http://www.MissRepresentation.org

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Revisit Your Professional Image this Season

If you’re like me, September makes you want to go shopping for a new fall wardrobe. It goes back to shopping for new school clothes. If you are unable to resist the urge to shop this fall, and you are looking to add more dresses to your professional wardrobe, consider adding the sheath dress.

This dress gives you a classic, hourglass silhouette and easily goes from day to night. There are a couple of challenges –aren’t there always challenges? –to wearing the sheath. The first is fit. A sheath that is too big will look like a sack. One the fit too tightly, looks, well, too tight. Another challenge is accessorizing so that it is not too bland.

Jessica London has created a video which will give you some styling ideas for sheath dresses.

With the right fit and styling, the sheath is a great addition to your professional wardrobe.

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Improve Your Professional Image – Speak with Authority

Image is not just appearance; it is also communication. The way in which you communicate, both verbal and written, affects how you are perceived. There is a trend among young women to put a question mark at the end of each sentence – sometime each phrase. Instead of saying, “There is a trend among young women to put a question mark at the end of each sentence”, they say, “There is a trend? among young women? to put a question mark at the end of each sentence?”.

When every sentence ends with a question mark, the speaker sounds uncertain about what they are saying. That question mark begs for a response – a reassurance – from the listener.

The polite listener will nod and give an audible reassurance (like “right” or “okay”), while thinking, “I don’t know. You’re telling me”. A not-so-polite listener will tune you out while thinking, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about”. They may even say, “I don’t know” after each question. In either case, your professional image has been compromised because of your inflection.

So? if you want to be perceived as professional? and you really do know what you’re talking about? resist the urge to add a question mark at the end of each phrase.
Speak with authority.

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Cropped Pants – Professional Image or Casual Image

The magazines have been telling us for several seasons that cropped pants will not call your professional image into question. However, according to a non-scientific survey that Polished Professional Image conducted, only 43% of the respondent think cropped pants are appropriate for work in a business casual environment. These respondents included HR professionals as well as office workers and entrepreneurs.

I have always contended that cropped pants are a poor choice if you want to present a professional image at work. They just don’t pass the professional image test. They have a very casual affect even in a business casual environment. What’s more, they are not very flattering on most figures. The optical illusion of cropped pants is they make the wearer appear shorter and usually wider. Unless this is your goal, you should avoid them.

There are better choices which are less likely to call your professional image into question. When in doubt, go with tailored, classic pants.

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In the meantime…

Polished Professional Image is re-vamping the blog (I admit, I broke the old one!), but in the meantime, a few tips about maintaining your professional image during the summer months, uh, remaining month.

  • Take a cue from your male co-workers when dressing during the remaining summer days. If they are not wearing tank tops and flip-flops to work, neither should you.
  • Okay, about those flip-flops, even if the guys are wearing them (take a picture and send it to me!), avoid wearing them yourselves. They never spell professional image – nope, not even the embellished ones.
  • Resist the urge to wear that cute, halter top or dress to work. It seems, no matter what top you wear with it, it still looks like a halter top.

That’s it for now. Back to the revamp.

Feel free to post your professional image questions. Oh, but there may be a bit of a delay in seeing your comments. I moderate to avoid putting you through the torment of going through a ton of irrelevant posts by the spammers.

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