Build Credibility by the Way You Dress

Building Credibility

What does the way you dress say about you? How does it reflect on your business?

We’ve all heard the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  The idea behind that is that we shouldn’t make assumptions about people and things based on appearance.

But the reality is, everyone does.  Whether they want to admit it or not, most people do make assumptions based on how people look.

As a multi-family investor, you want to make sure you’re making the best impression possible when you meet with people.

When you’re going to meet with a potential client, whether it be a broker, agent, investor or buyer, it’s important to realize they will make assumptions about you based on your dress and grooming.

They have a picture in their mind of what you should look like, and to the extent, you dress to match the picture they have in their mind, the better your chance of success.

Think about what you would expect someone in your position to look like – how they would be dressed, what their hair would be like, and for men, whether they would have facial hair.  What kind of dress and grooming would give the impression that you’re a professional who knows what they’re doing? 

Dress For Success

Depending on who you’re meeting with and the setting, it may have an impact on how you dress.

At the very least, your clothes should be neat and clean and should fit well.  It should be obvious you wouldn’t meet someone wearing a t-shirt or baggy clothes.

Guide For Men

If you’re a man and you will wear a suit, it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive if you’re just getting started.  But make sure it fits well and is free of wrinkles and stains.  Don’t look like someone going for their court date, wearing a big baggy suit that doesn’t fit well.

The pants should be the correct length.  You don’t want a bunch of fabric bunched up at the bottom.  When you’re wearing dress shoes, generally the back of the pant leg should go to your heel without stepping on it.  The front of the pant leg will have a slight break, meaning basically a ripple but not a full fold, since the front of the pant leg will be on your shoe.  The jacket should be the correct length too.  It should come to about the mid-to-lower crotch.  For more details on how a suit should fit, here is a great article.

Guide For Women

Women will want clothing that’s modest and portrays that you have self-respect.  So you don’t want to go with anything too tight, a top that’s too low-cut, or skirt that’s too short.  Those things can attract attention and that’s not what you’re going for.

You don’t really want people thinking too much about what you’re wearing.  You should “look the part” and be dressed appropriately for what you’re doing.  But you’re not trying to draw attention to yourself because that would distract people from what you’re there for.  So generally you don’t want to go with new fads of dress and grooming but go with a more classic, professional look.

Don’t Forget Your Hair

When it comes to hair, maybe look at pictures of professional people and see what kind of hairstyles they have.  Which ones look the most professional?  Like your clothing, you don’t really want people thinking about your hair.  You want it to look like it’s expected to look, not drawing attention.

For men, if you have facial hair, you’ll need to think about how people might perceive that.  If you decide to keep it, it should be neat and well-groomed.  You obviously don’t want to look like you stepped off the set of Duck Dynasty.  But seriously consider a clean-cut look.  Some people have preconceived ideas about people with beards or mustaches.

It would probably be wise to cover any tattoos you can and remove piercings that might give the wrong impression.

Concluding Thoughts

Of course, how you dress in your personal life is up to you.  But one thing to keep in mind is, what if you happen to run into someone you’re trying to do business with while you’re just around town, maybe running errands or shopping?  Would your appearance make them form a different opinion of you, and maybe hurt the deal you’re working on?  Would you look so different that they get the impression you were just putting on a show for them?

It’s worth thinking about how you look even when you’re not planning to meet a potential client.  Besides running into people you’re already trying to work with, keep in mind that people you come in contact with around town may be people you’ll want to do business with in the future.  So think about what kind of impression you’d like to make, even when you’re not necessarily trying to make an impression.

You may not be crazy about the idea of having to change your appearance to fit someone else’s expectations.  But the reality is, people do judge books by their covers, and they judge people by the way they’re dressed.  You can help your chance of getting the deals you want by dressing for success.

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