Fine-tuning your corporate image.

Author:Russell, Anne
Position:Includes related articles on nonverbal communication and business attire
 
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Think about it. Who do you know that always looks terrific, whose voice commands attention and who never seems flustered, no matter how important the presentation may be? Sure, some of us seem to be born with style and polish, but if you're like most professionals, a little help from an image professional can go a very long way in helping advance your career.

As businesses continue to shrink staff size and compress layers of management, companies are catapulting administrative and technical professionals into positions of increased responsibility and exposure, often with little or no formal preparation. For these newly minted managers, gaining access to the executive suite is only half the challenge. In this highly competitive environment, staying there is getting harder every day. FAce it, doing a good job is not enough. Today, you've got to look and act the part--exuding style, competence and authority--to ensure that your meteoric ascent up the corporate ladder doesn't end in a crash landing.

Corporations and nonprofit agencies have a vested interest in having polished executives represent the organization in the marketplace, on the fund-raising trail and in the media. That's why enhancing the image of managers is viewed as a bottom-line investment. Corporate leaders must command attention and respect from colleagues and clients. The millions that corporations spend each year for management training and development, career seminars, tuition reimbursement and fitness training demonstrates the value corporate America places on prepared, articulate and well-groomed executives.

Why Your Corporate Image Counts

"You image is like the weather," observes Marily Mondejar, founder and executive director of the San Francisco-based Image Industry Council International (IICI), a 4-year-old trade association of nearly 1,000 image development enterprises, with aggregate annual sales of $500 million. "People notice when it is extremely good or extremely bad." Mondejar, also president of Mondejar Associates & Image Consultants in the same city, counts Apple Computer, Security Pacific National Bank and Hartford Insurance Co. among her clients.

Your image is your reputation and is a reflection of how you are perceived by others, either through your conversation, appearance or written words. When the image you project is in sync with your firm's corporate culture, you'll find yourself standing on much surer footing. However, a persona not in keeping with protocol reflects poorly on you, your superiors and ultimately your company.

A positive public image encompasses a lot more than just knowing not to wear brown shoes with a blue suit. Indeed, it is a way of life in which your wardrobe style, voice intonation, grooming habits, etiquette, office decor, body language and business presentations, oral and written, denote a style of performance commensurate with success.

"People use image as a gauge...

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