One of the reasons why I work with people on image is to help them get their foot in the door of their chosen industry, whether it's an up-and-coming recording artist trying to make a name in the music industry or someone who is changing careers from one industry to a different one either due to job loss or a change in career focus. Image is an important component of one's career, and more specifically an important component of the number one way to get your foot in the door - NETWORKING.
But sometimes people don't immediately get the connection between image and networking until it's often too late. Let's say you know someone already in the industry who could introduce you to a lot of noteworthy people who could possibly be of assistance to getting your name out there or helping you get your big break. Ask yourself, "Would there be anything about me or the impression I make on others that would make this person hesitant to introduce me to his or her contacts?" Remember, this person is putting his or her own name and reputation on the line whenever they refer you to someone.
There could be some reasons due to your current image that would make this person hesitant to introduce you or refer you to someone in the industry. These reasons could include poor or inappropriate appearance, such as not dressing the part, showing too much skin, marinating in your cologne, or any number of things that would cause an industry leader to not take you seriously. I've personally seen this happen more than once. I've seen people show up to networking events in athletic shoes, outdated hair accessories (i.e. the scrunchie!), and extremely worn and faded clothes that have seen better days. It's not that these people don't get noticed, it's just that they do for the wrong reasons. It doesn't take a whole lot of time and money to make just a few updates and more appropriate clothing choices for such events (check out one of my past blogs for ways to update your wardrobe with little to no money). It doesn't matter if you have the best networking skills in the world. You'll never get to put them to use if your appearance is making you less than approachable.
Another reason someone may not feel comfortable referring you to others is because of your online presence, or lack thereof. If your tweets are offensive or if it's obvious your web site is a DIY project (i.e. it's riddled with misspellings, grammatical errors and distorted photos [a real pet peeve of mine - you know what I'm talking about...when only the width or height of a picture has been changed to fit a particular space...this just screams "AMATEUR"]), then you're not likely to get a referral. I once made the mistake of referring someone for a marketing job because the person seemed to have great marketing ideas, but then when I saw how outdated and inconsistent his own web site was, I regretted making the referral. Another poor reflection on your online image is if you set up a Facebook page or Twitter account and then never use it again, or if you never update your web site. Dropping the ball on social media and your web site maintenance gives the impression that you have nothing new to contribute or that you're not doing anything at all.
Your image, whether it's your appearance, online presence, behavior, etc., should always reflect your talent, your brand, and your professionalism in a positive light. Once it does, you'll begin to see doors start to open for you. paNASH Style is here to help you make that light inside of you shine!
For more networking tips, check out the entire chapter devoted to networking in the book Advance Your Image.
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