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The Consultant Image

 

consulting image

Is your consulant image important? You bet it is! Not just because it shapes others’ first impression of you, but it also shapes your own impression of yourself as a consultant. The consultant image you portray – in person, on the phone, in writing, even online – can make a difference in whether people trust or distrust you and whether you’ll land that new opportunity or lose it to someone else. Image also can impact your own perception of yourself and what you have to offer.

 

What image do you convey (and want to convey)?

As a consultant, people turn to you because they trust you. Or they don’t. Take a hard look at your image – what is it you WANT to portray, and to what extent does your physical image fit this? Do you present confidence and competence? Carefulness or sloppiness?  Attention to detail or disregard for ‘the little things’? You may be the most skilled person around, but if your dress, hair, cleanliness, even scent say “I don’t care” then it’s unlikely you’ll be viewed as credible and competent by others.

The little things DO matter

Not long ago I heard someone mention that they had sent out a marketing email that had a couple of small typos in it. “Oh well,” this person said, “people probably won’t notice, or they won’t care.” Wrong! People WILL notice, and they WILL care! If I receive that email my thinking will be something like this: if this person or company doesn’t care enough to get their email communication right, why should I trust that they’ll get things right when working on my project? Given the choice between someone who cares about the little things, and someone who clearly does not, I’ll go with the former every time. No contest.

Be professional

We hear that all the time, don’t we? But it’s worth digging deeply into this. What, precisely, does it mean to be “professional” in your field or industry? I know some companies where being professional means showing up to work each day in a coordinated suit. I also know companies where showing up in a suit would be considered very unprofessional and totally impractical. So what is “professional” in your work? In this regard, professional image goes beyond what you’re wearing or your ability to write an error-free email, and extends into the image your portray by being on time, every time, for example. It means following through on your commitments and delivering on what you say you’ll deliver. It means carefully cultivating the trust that is at the heart of all consulting relationships. Take time to consider just what is means to be professional in your line of work, and the extent to which you convey that image.

Your consultant image is more than just what you wear or how you conduct yourself. It’s all the hundreds, maybe thousands, of little things you do to manage the perception others have of you. Reach out to trusted friends and colleagues and get their assistance in evaluating your image. Ask them to act like a potential customer and check you out online, in person, over the phone. And encourage candid feedback – just take it all in, being neither apologetic nor defensive. Then, take what you learn through this and begin polishing the image, so your image is as outstanding as your credentials!

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