March 2018 Newsletter: Should You Dress to Impress?
Should you dress to impress?
We have all heard that we should “dress for success,” but what does that really mean?
In a business setting, your appearance matters. When people look at you, they make assumptions about what you do for a living, how much money you make, and how successful you are. These assumptions are based solely on your appearance.
Successful people maintain an impeccable image because they know that their image is part of their brand. One of the themes I emphasize in speaking to audiences is that they should “dress for success” or “look the part.” If you do this, you have a better chance of impressing potential customers, which in turn may bring more business to you. Dressing for success is not optional if you want to succeed in business – it’s required!
“You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.” – Zig Ziglar
To prove my point, I will share a recent experience with you. My significant other and I arrived in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, and after going through Customs we headed outside to get a taxi to our hotel.
At least 30 eager taxi drivers approached us wanting to carry our bags to their car. Actually, I felt a little nervous deciding which one to choose. They all seemed very much the same, except for one young man who had a company logo on his shirt. He was also well groomed and confident. We chose him as our driver. (If we had known the condition of the vehicle he was taking us to, we probably would have picked someone else.) Why did we pick him right away? Because he looked the part, which impressed us immediately.
My question to you is “Do you look the part of a person who is successful in your chosen field?” Will people choose you because you stand out in the crowd? When you dress to impress, you are telling your prospective customer that THEY MATTER; you are making them feel significant!
As you know, my career is in real estate, and I believe that dressing for success is common sense. I am known for wearing suits, not always with a tie. I wear suits because it makes me feel good and it lets my customers know that I respect them. Wearing a suit works for me. I have met many real estate professionals who agree with me and many who don’t. One of my long-time friends and competitors owns one of the largest real estate brokerage firms in the country, and he is most commonly seen in jeans and fashionable shirts. He wears flip flops to work. His appearance is not the norm in our industry, but it works for him and it does not reduce my respect for him as a businessman.
In my past brokerage firm (DEEB Realty), I had one agent whose customers were all first-time buyers. He wanted to market to buyers who were seeking homes in a higher price range, so he came to me for advice. I asked him, “If you were the buyer or seller of a $500K and up home, would you want your Realtor to be dressed like you are, in faded jeans and unshaven? Probably not.” He was and is an extremely successful Realtor and has been for years; however, I am certain he could do more business selling homes in a higher price range if he upgraded his appearance. He is his own worst enemy.
I admit I am old-fashioned in believing that my clients expect me to look the part. Today the real estate market is so hot that an agent could probably wear a soiled T-shirt and a Speedo and still make a great living. However, I believe dressing to impress will make a comeback in my industry. Even if it doesn’t, you will feel more professional if you look your best.
“It’s been proven that dressing well can increase your income and is also important to a person’s self-respect and composure.” – Lindsey Shores
I believe you should never judge a book by its cover; however, I am also aware that first impressions have a lasting impact. Years ago one of my friends said he wanted to purchase a property, so I set him up with an agent in my firm. A couple of months later I ran into him and asked him how it had gone with the agent I had referred him to. He was very honest with me and said the agent had showed up in gym shorts and a T-shirt so he decided not to do business with him. I was very disappointed and didn’t blame my friend because I would have had the same reaction. When I confronted the agent about it, he said he was on his way to his son’s baseball game and was dressing for sitting in the stands and not showing a home. Wrong answer! Do you know how many people he would have impressed sitting in the stands at the game looking the part of a businessman? He never got another referral from me again.
Business is challenging enough as it is. Why make it harder than it has to be? I am not the smartest businessman on the planet; however, it feels great to look that way. I like what Stacia Pierce had to say about dressing for success. She wrote in her blog:
Your image is an outside indicator of who you are as a person. A big part of advancing in life is looking the part. A keen sense of style when it comes to your image can lead to greater opportunities and higher levels of success.
When you look your best, you perform at your best. Make a decision right now to upgrade your image, and write an affirmation concerning your new look. Write down what you want people to say about your appearance. Include a description of how you feel when you dress your absolute best. Speak the affirmation to yourself in the mirror every day before leaving the house.
You’ll find it much easier to meet new people, express yourself, make presentations in meetings, and even close the deal when you are looking and feeling your best. Think about ways to upgrade your look so you can dress for success.
Respect, confidence, and self-empowerment can all start with how you choose to look. Make sure to look your best every day. Prepare yourself as if you were planning to interview for your next big promotion. Dress in a way that is both comfortable and stylish so that you will look and feel fresh, professional, and well put together.
In business, it really is true that you never (or seldom) get a second chance to make a good first impression.
If not now, then when? And if not you, then who?
What People in the Audience are Saying…
With Van's passion, humor and experience you can be assured of one thing- your audience is going to get fired-up, built-up, and fully charged –up. As an entrepreneur at the top of his game Van is in the unique position of being able to "talk the talk" because he has "walked the walk". Over the years he has been a great inspiration to me and my staff. Van is a speaker with charisma, humility and impact and he's a difference maker in the lives of the people he touches…"
I wanted to thank you for coming and speaking with our company today. I thought your presentation was awesome! I was really motivated and inspired by your thoughts and ideas. I will use this motivation to grow my business and my personal life.”
We are delighted you will be accepting the award for Omaha’s Top 25 fastest growing companies. Congratulations on your outstanding growth and we wish you continued success.”
Thank you for running such a class act company. It is an honor and a pleasure to be associated with someone such as yourself. I know you are probably one of the most respected businessmen in the region.”
Congratulations on writing “Selling from the heart” and thank you for sharing a copy with me. Your class has been one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve ever taken. Your enthusiasm and passion for your work are awesome. But the most refreshing part of the class was your delightful sense of humor. Thank you again for being a fantastic teacher.”
Kudos to you, Van, for reaching a major goal. But more than that...For successfully building one of Omaha’s best companies from scratch and making it thrive even in less than ideal market conditions. You have realized the American Dream...And brought it home to many, many others. My best to you!”
Having you here again was such a blessing to so many! As I looked at the pictures, I could see just how interested each and every person was in what you had to say!
This has been such a gift to our agents when they need it the most. The fact that you come, you are so genuine and caring, you are so honest, you are not trying to sell anything and your passion to help each and every person believe in themselves and become the best they can be is HUGE! The timing is perfect for us all helping and caring about each other, so, thank YOU from the bottom of my heart for giving of yourself to help all of us!”
I enjoyed your seminar and its focus. I was on the fence whether or not to attend and decided why not? I could have sat through an all day session if there was one, usually I end up at the seminars that start with a focus and quickly go astray. I found with yours time flew by too fast and it was already time to go but I wasn’t ready to go.”