Jacqueline Vazquez, Founder of Lifetime Events by Jacqueline
When people spend money, it’s because they feel a connection with your business. The basic rule of professionalism and polish is that your business has to look like the person your customers want to hang out with. This is called your business’ brand, and it consists of image, style and other related elements. When you represent your business, you should always be conscious of the brand you are representing, because ultimately, people are giving you money because they are attracted to your brand.
Recently, I was asked to speak at an event hosted by Jacqueline Vasquez, owner of Lifetime Events by Jacqueline and the topic for the evening was How to Achieve a Professional Image Through Wardrobe and Communication. The audience consisted of members and non-non members of the Association of Bridal Consultants and many of them run their own businesses whether it’s wedding events, corporate events, audio visual and alike. Each business owner is their own personal brand and it’s important they project the right image. I spoke about image and personal branding and reminded everyone that every little detail matters. Everything from the cut of my suit to the topics I spoke about. I am a NYC image expert, and those words are a sort of brand in and of themselves. New York City, the heart of global commerce. Image, I have to look good. Expert, I have to know what I’m talking about. Each of these things are elements of my brand, and when I show that I embody any of these things, my stock goes up. If I were to slip up and show the opposite, my credibility would be damaged, and I might not get invited back to another speaking engagement.
It is similar with brands for small businesses. Whenever your business takes a public stance in the world, it differentiates itself from the competition. When it takes a repeated public stance, it develops a brand around the images, words and media it uses to express itself. The trick is to make sure that your business has the best brand. Image and style are everything where marketing is concerned.
Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and style depends on who’s buying. If you’re trying to be “hot,” the styles and images surrounding your business would look much different if you’re selling to, say, a sixteen-year-old girl than if you’re trying to sell to a thirty-year-old man. When you differentiate yourself in the marketplace, be sure you take your market into account.
There are so many details when it comes to creating a successful, professional, polished brand. Do you know if your business is projecting a polished brand? Take my poll (upper right hand corner) and let me know!
It’s that time of year again when eating drinking and acting merry is the norm. The holiday season is filled with endless celebrations both at home and in the office. What one does in their own home is their business but the office is a public venue and can make or break one’s career.
Having worked in the corporate world as a marketing professional for some time, I can tell you that I’ve seen my share of careers gone bad because of inappropriate behavior at the annual holiday office party. It’s OK to have fun and enjoy your accomplishments at year end but why risk your reputation and potentially your job by showing poor judgment in one night.
Here’s my take on 8 career limiting mistakes that happen at the holiday office party and I can say that I have witnessed many of these.
1. Don’t do club wear – plunging necklines (yes this is for both men & women) short mini’s, excessive make up, funky footwear, overpowering perfume and cologne can be left for weekends not the office party.
Dress is too revealing for an office party and guys need not show chest hair
2. Don’t do shades indoors – not sure how this “trend” started but I assume some celebrity thought it was hip or cool to wear sunglasses indoors so the rest of society considered this to be acceptable. Unless a person has entered into thewitness protection plan and doesn’t want to risk being recognized, please don’t wear sunglasses indoors. It looks ridiculous and communicates “I have something to hide” or “I’m too cool to look you in the eye when speaking to you.”
3. Don’t gossip, point or poke fun at your colleagues or management team. This is a sure way to limit your ability to move up in the organization.
4. Don’t over indulge in alcohol or food – while this might seem obvious to many, for some reason, employees still do it. If you get drunk, you will be the person everyone talks about for year’s to come. And while the food buffet or passed hors de vours are yours for the taking, it’s not necessary to eat as if it’s your last meal. Ample portions are good, super size portions not good. One could be perceived as ill mannered or selfish by over indulging.
5. Don’t be an ingrate – companies don’t have to provide a holiday party but they do it to thank the employees for their hard work throughout the year so don’t complain about the venue, food, or the fact they didn’t have “premium” alcohol.
6. Don’t be inappropriate – while the event is festive in nature, it doesn’t mean you should discount the do’s and don’ts of appropriate office behavior. This means no ogling at co-workers and no overly outward displays of affection.
7. Don’t be ill mannered – thank the hosts for their generosity in throwing the event, don’t ignore the staff who are serving you instead thank them, introduce yourself to a colleague if you don’t know him or her and be sure to look as if you are enjoying yourself and not as if you want to make a clean get away when no one is watching.
8. Don’t not attend – we all have hectic schedules, particularly around this time of year but it’s considered disrespectful to not show up for your company party. Of course if you are out of town that’s an appropriate excuse but if you just don’t want to make the effort, that’s showing a lack of team spirit or lack of leadership.
Eat, drink and yes be merry but do it appropriately and in moderation!
5 Tips to Get You to Round 2
I was recently invited to help out my esteemed image colleagues, Catherine Schuller and Judith Ann Graham at a Job Fair in midtown Manhattan. No, we were not accepting job applications but instead providing image, resume and communication tips for those individuals seeking employment. With a 10% unemployment rate the competition is fierce so it’s our mission to help job seekers present a polished and professional image that will get them hired.
I’m writing this blog because to be honest, I was a bit surprised (ok well horrified) at how ill prepared some of these job seekers were. Everything from their attire, body language, and resumes screamed “I am just not into this!”
Attention Job Fair Attendees: It IS an interview and a very important one! It is your first contact with the company and could be your last.
1. Turn the cell phone/blackberry OFF and be “present!”
I watched a woman waiting on line to speak with a potential employer, talking loudly on her phone. Not only was she disrupting the others on the line whom were probably trying to mentally prepare themselves for their interview, but she was saying to the potential employer “I have other things to do today.” Really? The only thing that you should be communicating to all the employers in that room is “There is nothing more important than being here today and getting hired!”
2. Leave apathy at the door and bring enthusiasm into the room!
I stole the apathy part from my colleague Judith Graham and realized how right she is. Yes, many Americans are struggling right now and millions have been unemployed for quite some time BUT here’s your opportunity to get employed! Bring solutions to the table, not problems. Don’t walk into the job fair as if you are tired of doing this “gig” because chances are, the person that exudes energy, enthusiasm and a desire to be there will get through to round 2 and you won’t.
3. Dress up because it IS an interview
The same woman I mentioned above chatting loudly on her cell phone, thought it appropriate to wear a long sleeve rocker type t-shirt paired with jeans a few sizes to small and Ugg Boots. Do you think an employer will say “wow, this is a great candidate, she’s definitely making it to round 2?!” I think NOT. She could encompass all the qualities and skills they are looking for but her “attitude” and “attire” will only get her standing on line at the next Job Fair. Get your suit tailored, shoes polished, hair, make up and nails done, and for men, if you must have facial hair, keep it well groomed. If you are a smoker, PLEASE refrain from smoking until AFTER the job fair. Lastly, there is no need to have a cocktail prior to your “interview” so please refrain from this as well!
4. Practice your pitch
Your sole purpose at a job fair is to sell your skill set so that you differentiate yourself from all other candidates in that room that are vying for the same job. You have a very short window to do this (many people waiting on line) so practice your pitch. Know the answer when asked “why would I hire you” or better yet, don’t wait until you are asked, tell the interviewer when you meet him/her why you would be the best candidate for the job.
5. Your image encompasses your resume
Please have a professional review and critique your resume. Trust me, whatever the cost; it will be well worth it. If you don’t have an email address, get one; they are FREE! When you open up the account, do not pick a funny email address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org; simply use your name! Also, when you print your resume, print it on heavy stock paper not ordinary printer paper. Your resume is a leave behind so make sure it gets passed on in the organization and not thrown in the recycle bin.
I implore everyone that plans to attend a job fair to please take these above tips into careful consideration. If you have specific questions, please feel free to write a comment here in this blog or send me an email directly at email@example.com