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Image Management is About Coping with Change
We live in an era of accelerated technological, economic and social change. How does one cope with the burden of change? The answer to this complex question is, in part, that we must accept the inevitability of change and create a personal culture of openness to it.

Ongoing education is another important facet of dealing with change. Business people must always be vigilant, sorting and prioritizing issues that require change. Image management concerns are often so omnipresent in our business lives that they are overlooked or given a low priority, but our very success, to a great degree, depends upon how we present ourselves in the competitive forum of the marketplace.

In our visual society we subconsciously size one another up on the visual plane. Image management elevates this subconscious criticism into the conscious and teaches us how to work against unfair visual judgements. It is our presence, not our garments that should command attention when we dress successfully. Wearing the correct garments will help us to inspire trust in our abilities and in the products and services we promote. Our appearance is a bottom-line issue, both in the figurative and in the actual meaning of this phrase.

You have often heard: "You only have one chance to make a first impression!" Recent research in the area of personal appearance indicates that over 90% of top decision makers agreed that personal presentation was the key factor in gaining employment as well as career advancement. How does one grapple with the challenge of making a positive first impression? Knowledge about contemporary image issues is the key. What was once considered standard business dress may no longer be appropriate. An important part of image management revolves around presenting yourself in a contemporary manner suitable for the context in which you do business.

When you have a complicated software package, you consult a computer expert. When your books don't balance, you make a mad dash for your accountant. Image management is a learning process that requires the assistance of an expert, like any other area of our business lives. The job of an image consultant is to analyse, assess and educate clients in matters of personal presentation. Clients are made aware of how clothing styles and colours, along with body language, voice, grooming and etiquette, play a vital part in creating that all important first impression.

As business people we spend days, perhaps months, developing our brochures, sales aides, and other advertising and promotional tools. Often in the race to launch our enterprises we forget our persons. After all is said and done, you are your business. Your public presence advertises what you can do and who you are. Is your public presence congruent with the nature of your business? Does every element fit together, or are there inconsistencies? Your appearance and that of your employees are as important to your business as cash flow and accounts receivable.

Image management is about coping with change with an eye towards increasing your business and personal success. Make that first impression count!

Catherine Bell is President of Prime Impressions, a Kingston-based image consulting company, seminar leader, and author of Managing Your Image Potential. Enquiries and comments can be directed to Catherine Bell at: tel: (613)634-1820, fax: (613) 634-1830, EMAIL www.prime-impressions.com