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Work it Out: Executive Presence

20 January 2012 No Comments

The key to exuding a high profile business image

By Chellie Mejia, B.Sc.

A powerful business image is second to none, and is probably one of the best-kept secrets to success.  I say best-kept secret because although there are a thousand books and articles that emphasize and often dissect this well-known skill, there are very few that have been able to effectively portray a professional image that is effective and authentic to them.  More than any other factor, your image in business can directly affect your rate of success or failure in the business world, often before any qualitative evaluation of your skills and talents can even take place.  Mastering the art of projecting an executive presence, then, is of paramount importance.

First lesson?  Presence and attractiveness go far beyond looks.  An effective business image incorporates the physical, yes, in terms of attire, grooming, hair style, etc.  But there is so much more that goes into why people will be attracted to you than what colour tie you choose to wear with that shirt.  The right handshake, articulation, effective listening, and a keen knowledge of the intricacies of business protocols and courtesies are all ways to display confidence, leadership and personal power.

Beyond that, you need to make sure that your business image is communicating to your colleagues and clients alike what you want to communicate.  Decide in advance what you’d like your image to convey on the nonverbal level.  Write it down as words that you would speak out loud but choose to speak through your actions and demeanour.  For example, my mantra is simple: “I am intelligent, I am radical, I am different from any businesswoman you’ll ever come across, and those differences make me easily capable of handling any curve ball you throw at me while inspiring others to do the same.”  I speak that personal business truth through my interactions with those around me, my complete unwillingness to do anything by the status quo and my constant desire to educate myself on the things I have yet to learn and master.  I also speak that truth through my lace and floral blouses and my Barbie-length hair.  No apologies.

I took it upon myself to conduct a little survey amongst my most successful business-minded friends as to what they would say their personal business truths are.  Some examples?

“I am resourceful, I am authoritative, and I am at my best when I am in charge.”  (A sensational entrepreneur in the city with a no-nonsense attitude and the power suits and silk tie collection to match.  Most likely found hosting a board meeting at a client’s office.)

“I choose passion over money and I do what I want, not what I have to do.”  (If you knew her, you’d know how authentic this statement is for her!  She eats, sleeps and breathes her office, and she loves every minute!  Most likely found in her office wearing yoga pants and a tshirt.)

“I am vibrant, I crave fresh ideas and unique experiences, and I refuse to confine my business to the four walls of a building.”  (A budding jewellery designer who prefers tradeshows and festivals to a storefront.  Most likely found wearing a bohemian maxi dress in Kensington Market.)

Your clients, colleagues, friends and family will only see you as a projection of how you see yourself, so projecting a self-empowered, confident and positive self-image is key.

Above all, make sure your image is yours.  You can’t please everyone, a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.  People with true vision and drive rarely follow the herd and are often criticised for doing so.  Believe in yourself, and when you do, it will be easy for others to believe in you too.  Success will follow.

Chellie Mejia is a freelance writer, real estate developer and lifestyle coach. Follow Chellie on Twitter @chelliemejia. Visit her new website www.chelliemejia.com.

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