Turns out that in business – even the freelance business – image really is everything
I know we all like to think that everybody’s equal and we’re all super-valuable. But in the freelance business world, your intrinsic value has very little to do with your market value.
In business, your reputation really does precede you. Before your ideal client hands you any money, they want to know that you’re worth the time, money, and resources they’re investing. And like it or not, their vetting process starts with them determining what level of confidence they have in you based on your image – the first impression they get of you.
In this post, I thought it would be cool (and really helpful) to talk about a few seemingly harmless things you may think of as superficial that are actually really important when it comes to branding your business ESPECIALLY if you’re you run a home-based business, do consulting, or are an individual service provider like a freelance writer or a transcriptionist.
#1. Poor Dental Hygiene
Your smile matters… and I’m not just saying that in a public-service-announcement kind of way. Your smile is probably one of the best tools you have in your arsenal for quickly projecting confidence, spreading positivity, and putting those around you at ease.
I’m not talking about having a gap in your teeth (which I think looks very chic) or an overbite (which most of the people I know have). I’m talking about good, old-fashioned dental care – just taking care of your teeth.
Positivity and self-confidence go along way toward helping you to gain confidence from others, and that’s really important when it comes to landing new clients and drumming up referrals from existing clients.
#2. An Old Haircut
Grooming counts. Not only does a great hairstyle or haircut help you find and maintain your swagger but your hair is also a low-key sales tool you can use to, again, gain people’s to trust in your abilities easier and faster. After all, if you take pride in your appearance, you’re far more likely to take pride in your work. And that’s good news for your clients.
If you have short hair, even the definition in your hairline counts. And sometimes no amount of backward brushing can fix what only a trip to the barber’s chair can solve.
#3. An Old Weave
I’ve been guilty of this myself, but nothing brings chaos to an intelligent conversation like a ratty weave or a rowdy wig. Haha. A weave that looks good, natural, or interesting can easily get you positive attention. But a weave that’s old, dirty, ratty… (smh) hard to have faith in a businesswoman wearing an old weave that’s gone dull and lifeless.
#4. A Beat-up Car
I remember Tony Robbins saying that when he first started in sales, he drove a beat-up, old car. And when he met with clients – many of them big names and high-performers – he would park at the very back of the parking lot and walk the long stretch to the door. Been there.
Many of us have, I think. I mean, today, Tony Robbins is Tony Robbins, which is proof that there are other, more important, aspects of your personality and business that matter waaaay more than your car. But, the car you drive sets your clients up with a rate ceiling. Not kidding.
People judge your success and your capabilities by the car you drive with the assumption that what you drive is all you can afford. It’s not fair. It just is what it is.
Quick story: I once rode in a car with a guy I thought was an awesome salesman. I had his tapes and everything. I wasn’t even turned off by the fact that he had an old, 80s sedan. That type of car is a popular choice in the hood. What led me to question the effectiveness of the strategies he taught, however, was the fact that there was no interior panel on the front passenger door of his car. The interior of the car wasn’t clean or neat. It looked neglected.
That short drive home in the front seat of a dirty car with no interior panels made me question his abilities. No ideas where those sales tapes went. Trash, probably.
#5. Being Country
Now, so we’re clear, being country is very different from having a thick accent. Living in the Georgia sticks as I do, I’ve had the privilege of meeting plenty of people with southern accents. Heck, my maternal family hails from Alabama. Being “country” just means unrefined. Bubba from Forrest Gump was unrefined. Loretta Devine is not.
#6. Having the Pretty Girl Syndrome
Pretty girls can be the worst. They are so used to men hitting on them that they develop behaviors designed to keep less confident men at bay, and these behaviors can become automatic, if they’re not careful. What types of behaviors? Things like not making eye contact, rolling their eyes, answering with grunts instead of words, being rude and discourteous to the men they meet (I friggin’ hate when women roll their eyes or put their hands in a man’s face, or interrupt him with “No” before he’s even done with his pitch – so disrespectful).
The assumption that every many wants to hook up with you is a dangerous one to make. Some men do, but a safer assumption is that a male client is far more concerned with his business than hooking up. So, you have to peel away those pretty girl habits. Speaking of girl habits…
One of the first lessons we taught my daughter when she decided to launch her own design firm is that the way you dress communicates a ton of information about you… even if that information is incorrect.
I don’t care what business you’re in, wearing really tight or revealing clothing sets you up to start your business relationship overcoming assumptions and judgments. Makes sense, right? If the CEO for a Fortune 500 company wanted to bring you in as a consultant, and when you arrived in the office to meet with him, he was wearing pressed slacks and fitted, black tank top, you’d be wondering what was up, too.
Being mindful of how you present yourself to the world and covering up a bit isn’t a matter of body positivity or shaming or anything else. It’s just recognizing that whether or not you want it to, the way you dress affects how people perceive you.
#8. Too Much Makeup
Honey, there’s nothing wrong with having that face beat. I have entire Pinterest boards dedicated to makeup looks that I love. But too much makeup, brightly colored eyeshadow, super-long lashes, blue lipstick… all great when you’re out at the mall, but they don’t always send the best message when it comes time to sign those five- and six-figure contracts.
Tone down your glam. Go with a more natural look and save your green to blue hombre hair for when you and your girls go out to celebrate your win.
Wrapping Things Up: Everything Counts
As I was researching this article, I pulled up Brian Tracy’s website and came across a concept that really puts a bow on this entire piece: Everything counts… and your freelance business is no exception.
“Everything contributing to the way you look on the outside is important. If it’s not helping you, it’s hurting you. While you cannot control your physical features, you have total control over your dress and grooming. In fact, we generally assume that a person consciously and deliberately makes a personal statement about himself with every part of his appearance that he can affect in any way.”
You can read that article here.
Brian Tracy Video: The Law of Accumulation