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Learn to manage your personal leadership image

Washington Post
May 20, 2012

How mindful are you of your personal leadership image? How do you come across to recruiters or business professionals? If you were to be publicly roasted, what would your friends and co-workers say about you? Building an authentic leadership image is critical for your personal brand and professional success. As a leader you will greatly benefit from knowing how you come across to others. Your personality, style, behavior, body language, words and attitude all contribute to your image.

In today’s world, a five-minute interaction, whether in person, through e-mail or via social media channels, can define you in another’s eyes for years to come. Building your leadership image requires you to gain a clear picture how you’re coming across to others so that you can compare this against what you hope to convey.

Once armed with these data you can make improvements. The bottom line is that your professional image can either be an asset or a liability so take the time to make sure your image works in your favor.

Try to understand how others see you and why.

For example, what three words would your peers use to describe your leadership brand or what you stand for? Be vulnerable by asking for feedback. Create the opportunity to be “roasted” by soliciting 360-degree feedback from colleagues in the workplace. You can also ask for feedback from family and friends.

Be careful to monitor your verbal and nonverbal behavior.

Limited eye contact, shifting eyes, smirks, increased blinking or having your head tilted to one side might convey that you’re being dishonest or phony. A stoic expression could convey disinterest. Crossed arms might give a recruiter or colleague the impression that you’re defensive. Gaps in speech (e.g., “uh” or “ah”), rambling or fast speech, and flushed cheeks could convey nervousness or limited self-confidence. Being too serious might be perceived as overly reserved or uncaring. Appearing overbearing or competitive might portray a strongly independent or lone wolf image. Posting inappropriate humor, or daring or offbeat content on your Facebook page might convey an impulsive or mischievous demeanor. All of these things can affect how others perceive you, so pay attention to how you come across.

Be authentic.

Keep in mind that image building is not about creating a false image or putting on a show. Be careful not to go overboard and be sure to interact with others in a genuine manner. Being true to who you are and putting your best foot forward will allow others to have a positive image of who you are as a leader.

Remember, as a leader your image is constantly being created and tested.

Your behaviors and attitude will either reinforce or disprove people’s impressions and assumptions about your competence and character. Don’t let a negative or poor image derail your leadership potential.

In the words of Warren Buffett, renowned investor and philanthropist, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

So manage your leadership image before others do it for you.

Jeffrey Kudisch is managing director of the Office of Career Services at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and a faculty expert in leadership, negotiations and human capital management. He has a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology and he co-founded Personnel Assessment Systems, a human resource consulting firm specializing in executive assessment and leadership development./

More Articles on Office Etiquette

8 Workplace Etiquette Tips for Rookies

Is Office Etiquette DEAD?

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The Secret To Successful Networking Is A Four Letter Word

Forbes
Mindy Lockard, April 20 2012

A Harvard University study shows that 15% of the reason a person gets a job, keeps a job, or advances in a job is related to technical skills and job knowledge… 85% has to do with people skills. Due to our current employment rate and downsized companies, working this 85% is never more important than when networking. Whether it’s official business or social, making conversations can make or break how we build a network of people to call on as we make our journey up the professional ladder.

As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Likewise, what comes out of your mouth can never taken back.  Remember – working a room is work. It’s exhausting, and it can be overwhelming, but with a few conversation skills you can be sure that you’ll be communicating with 100% of your people skills.

Work Your Name: Enunciating your first and last name is the single most important aspect of networking, because if those you’re connecting with don’t know your name…they can’t contact you. When saying your name, say it slowly and clearly. In the world of self-introductions, Mindy easily becomes Cindy, and more difficult names can become nothing more than a mumble… especially in a sea of people working hard to make their names known and remembered.

Work to Remember Names: Ninety percent of the clients I ask say they are terrible at remembering names. But remembering names is the key to creating a strong network. After all, it’s hard to call on “What’s his name” or to engage with “Hey, YOU,” for an entire conversation. A quick tip to remembering names is to make sure you hear it and know it right away by adding it to the conversation, “Nice to meet you, Jim,” or “Tell me about what you do for XYZ bank, Jim.” And if you didn’t catch it the first time, ask again. “Please, tell me your name again,” and this time stop, look at the person in front of you, and truly listen!

Work to Know Others: Creating a solid network of people that you can call on for advancement or professional collaboration comes from getting to know others. Networking conversation works best when you exercise a 30% responding to questions about you and 70% actively try to learn about others. Ask open-ended questions such as “Tell me about how long you’ve been with Bank XYZ?” rather than “How long have you been with Bank XYZ?” Using “Tell me about . . .” actually requires your conversational partner to reply with more than one word. A conversation of one-word answers is, in a word, awkward.

Networking conversation should always be inclusive. A potential business associate should never try to enter your conversation with someone else only to feel the cold shoulder. Bring others in with a warm welcome like, “Mary, so great to see you.  We were just discussing Jim’s recent trip to Paris,” or “Hi, my name is Mindy and this is Jim. We were just discussing his recent trip to Paris. Have you been?”

Work to Help Others Connect: Remember that working a room is all about staying in motion. Sometimes,  a chatty Cathy corners us and won’t let us go. Prepare for these situations by crafting an exit strategy. You might say, “I really enjoyed meeting you, Cathy! I see my colleague Jennifer has just arrived and I promised to introduced her to our new client.”  Or you could introduce your new friend to someone who has something in common with her. “Cathy, I’d like to introduce you to Steve. Steve just moved to the area from your hometown.  I’m sure he would love to hear how your transition went.” Thus, you free yourself up to meet new people and help Cathy connect with another potential new friend.

Using your words wisely and truly engaging with people will set you apart from the rest of the room. Not only will you be remembered, but by asking intelligent questions of others, you will build a strong network of people you can call on when researching, fact-finding or pursuing a job or advancement. Remembering that 85% of job success comes from successful people skills, work a room with confidence and you’ll find yourself with a 100% return on every conversation.

More Articles on Networking

Networking for Success: Navigating the Business Cocktail Party
Strengthening Your Client Relationships – and Your Muscles

Keep your Business Communication Skills Sharp: The Latest in Social Networking

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Business Etiquette
5 Rules That Matter Now

Inc.
Eliza Browning

The word “etiquette” gets a bad rap. For one thing, it sounds stodgy and pretentious. And rules that are socially or morally prescribed seem intrusive to our sense of individuality and freedom.

But the concept of etiquette is still essential, especially now—and particularly in business. New communication platforms, like Facebook and Linked In, have blurred the lines of appropriateness and we’re all left wondering how to navigate unchartered social territory.

At Crane & Co., we have been advising people on etiquette for two centuries. We have even published books on the subject—covering social occasions, wedding etiquette and more.

Boil it down and etiquette is really all about making people feel good. It’s not about rules or telling people what to do, or not to do, it’s about ensuring some basic social comforts.

So here are a few business etiquette rules that matter now—whatever you want to call them.

1. Send a Thank You Note

I work at a paper company that manufactures stationery and I’m shocked at how infrequently people send thank you notes after interviewing with me. If you’re not sending a follow-up thank you note to Crane, you’re not sending it anywhere.

But the art of the thank you note should never die. If you have a job interview, or if you’re visiting clients or meeting new business partners—especially if you want the job, or the contract or deal—take the time to write a note. You’ll differentiate yourself by doing so and it will reflect well on your company too.

2. Know the Names

It’s just as important to know your peers or employees as it is to develop relationships with clients, vendors or management. Reach out to people in your company, regardless of their roles, and acknowledge what they do.

My great-grandfather ran a large manufacturing plant. He would take his daughter (my grandmother) through the plant; she recalled that he knew everyone’s name—his deputy, his workers, and the man who took out the trash.

We spend too much of our time these days looking up – impressing senior management. But it’s worth stepping back and acknowledging and getting to know all of the integral people who work hard to make your business run.

3. Observe the ‘Elevator Rule’

When meeting with clients or potential business partners off-site, don’t discuss your impressions of the meeting with your colleagues until the elevator has reached the bottom floor and you’re walking out of the building. That’s true even if you’re the only ones in the elevator.

Call it superstitious or call it polite—but either way, don’t risk damaging your reputation by rehashing the conversation as soon as you walk away.

4. Focus on the Face, Not the Screen

It’s hard not to be distracted these days. We have a plethora of devices to keep us occupied; emails and phone calls come through at all hours; and we all think we have to multitask to feel efficient and productive.

But that’s not true: When you’re in a meeting or listening to someone speak, turn off the phone. Don’t check your email. Pay attention and be present.

When I worked in news, everyone was attached to a BlackBerry, constantly checking the influx of alerts. But my executive producer rarely used hers—and for this reason, she stood out. She was present and was never distracted in editorial meetings or discussions with the staff. And it didn’t make her any less of a success.

5. Don’t Judge

We all have our vices—and we all have room for improvement. One of the most important parts of modern-day etiquette is not to criticize others.

You may disagree with how another person handles a specific situation, but rise above and recognize that everyone is trying their best. It’s not your duty to judge others based on what you feel is right. You are only responsible for yourself.

We live in a world where both people and businesses are concerned about brand awareness. Individuals want to stand out and be liked and accepted by their peers–both socially and professionally.

The digital landscape has made it even more difficult to know whether or not you’re crossing a line, but I think it’s simple. Etiquette is positive. It’s a way of being—not a set of rules or dos and don’ts.

So before you create that hashtag, post on someone’s Facebook page or text someone mid-meeting, remember the fundamentals: Will this make someone feel good?

And remember the elemental act of putting pen to paper and writing a note. You’ll make a lasting impression that a shout-out on Twitter or a Facebook wall mention can’t even touch.

More Articles on Networking

Networking for Success: Navigating the Business Cocktail Party
Strengthening Your Client Relationships – and Your Muscles

Keep your Business Communication Skills Sharp: The Latest in Social Networking

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Drink Too Much At Your Office Happy Hour? Here’s How To Fix It

Business Insider
Laura Marie Given, March 27 2012

There was an open bar, a round (or five) of drinks with your co-workers, and things got a little out of hand — now what? If you go a little overboard at the office happy hour, you should deal with the aftermath in a smart, professional way to avoid any extra drama. Save face and keep your reputation intact by following these five tips:

  • Don’t draw any extra attention to the situation. If people aren’t talking about it, don’t bring it up. There’s no reason to dish on last night’s shenanigans with all your co-workers, so skip the “What was I thinking?” small talk and bring up job-related topics instead.
  • Apologize and accept responsibility. Accidentally offend someone with your behavior? Own up to your actions and say you’re sorry. It’s better to step up and deal with it than to push it aside, because ignoring the problem may build unnecessary resentment.
  • Redeem yourself. Should any issues arise, address them with honesty and humility. What you said or did under the influence may have reflected poorly on your character, so this is your chance to demonstrate a bit of integrity.
  • Steer conversations elsewhere. If the incident continues to come up, do what you can to redirect the dialogue. Laugh off any light jabs, then let it go. The only way other people will move on is if you do, too.
  • Try to learn from your mistake. Actions speak louder than words, so back up your apologies with sensible, office-appropriate behavior. Prove yourself by sticking to one or two drinks next time and remember that what you do outside the office still reflects on your professional reputation.

 

More Articles on Networking

Networking for Success: Navigating the Business Cocktail Party
Strengthening Your Client Relationships – and Your Muscles

Keep your Business Communication Skills Sharp: The Latest in Social Networking

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Executive meeting etiquette: Tips to help you shine

Business Management Daily
Elizabeth Hall, April 11 2012

 

It’s a snowball effect: The more poised and confident you are, the more people will like and admire you, which in turn will boost your confidence even more. It’s evident that business professionals who appear poised and at ease shine during meetings.

“It really is all about how you present yourself,” says Business Management Daily’s Senior Web Editor Elizabeth Hall. “Self-promotion is key in moving up the business ladder, and manners never go out of style.”

Are you in need of meeting etiquette and protocol tips? Here are guidelines to help you excel during that important meeting:

1. Respond: If you’ve been invited to a meeting or a function, don’t wait until the last minute to let organizers know whether you’re attending. If you have to cancel at the last minute, call and apologize.

2. Prepare: Always have an agenda ready. Do your homework. Who will be there? What will be discussed? What items might you need for the meeting? Bring your own daily planner so you know your availability, if necessary. If this meeting is outside your office, pack plenty of business cards, arrive ahead of time and bring your client’s phone number in case you’re delayed.

3. Meet hand-to-hand and eye-to-eye: Give a firm handshake regardless if you’re being introduced to male or female colleagues. In addition, maintain eye contact now and during the meeting. When someone is speaking directly to you, looking away is considered rude. If writing notes, glance up often to show your interest and respect.

4. Get down: Make sure you sit someplace where you’ll be noticed and easily recognized. Now would be the time to present those extra business cards you packed. You can place them directly in front of you, or hand them out. If someone reciprocates, do not put his or her card immediately into your pocket. Give the person the courtesy of looking it over.

5. Get up: If you’re being introduced to a newcomer to the meeting, or someone who had been at the other end of the room, stand back up, shake the person’s hand, smile and give him or her direct eye contact.

More Articles on Networking

Networking for Success: Navigating the Business Cocktail Party
Strengthening Your Client Relationships – and Your Muscles

Keep your Business Communication Skills Sharp: The Latest in Social Networking

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3 Rules for Building Business Relationships

Inc
Karl Stark and Bill Stewart

 

Are you generating the most value from your professional relationships? Here are three ways to quickly inject some life into your network.

Ask any entrepreneur or salesperson (one might argue there is no difference) about their greatest asset and you’ll often hear the same answer: their network and relationships.

Countless bestsellers have been written on how to cultivate and nurture relationships.  Why is it then that we see so many people not taking advantage of the opportunities to broaden their network and engage with those who could potentially be their next great partner?

As our firm continues to grow and we bring in top talent from a variety of companies and professional backgrounds, we realize that each of us has a strong network of relationships that we aren’t fully leveraging.

Here are three ways to improve the way you nurture your network to get the most out of your professional relationships.

1. Focus on the value that you can provide to your network and not necessarily on what the person can provide for you. If you can provide value to someone in your network with limited time and resource investment, do it! Aside from the fact that it is a nice gesture, you can be sure you’ll be top of mind next time this person or someone in their network has a need that fits your area of expertise.

2. Being a relationship “broker” can offer significant benefits to your personal and professional brand. While you should always be sensitive to busy people’s time, simply making an introduction between two people in your network who share a common interest or challenge can do wonders for each of these individual relationships.

3. Don’t let personal fears get in the way of forming new relationships. It is far easier to talk to people you already know than it is to form new relationships. Explore the boundaries of your comfort zone to put yourself in a position to form new, productive relationships whenever an opportunity arises.  It is never an easy task, but proactively expanding your network can pay off in dividends for your personal and professional development.

It’s generally preferable to have fewer high-quality relationships than hundreds of low-quality relationships. By following these simple steps, you can begin to improve the quality of your professional relationships – a skill that is admired by many but mastered by few.

More Articles on Networking

Networking for Success: Navigating the Business Cocktail Party
Strengthening Your Client Relationships – and Your Muscles

Keep your Business Communication Skills Sharp: The Latest in Social Networking

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5 New Ways to Network (That You Won’t Dread)

Forbes
April 10 2012

 

If you want to groan every time you hear the word “networking,” well, I don’t exactly blame you. The word conjures images of uncomfortable schmooze-fests, where suit-clad business executives work the room, wine glass in hand, feigned interest at the ready. Who would enjoy that?

But guess what? Networking doesn’t have to be that bad—in fact, it shouldn’t be. The goal is to meet new people and expand your professional network, and there’s no reason those activities have to be confined to conferences and industry happy hours.

All it takes is a little imagination, and networking might even be kind of fun. These five ideas will help you get started.

1. Reinvent the Meet-and-Mingle

Is there an activity you’ve been wanting to try, or a new skill you’d like to learn? Pick an activity—like taking up golf, learning to make your own wine, joining a book club, or anything else that other stressed-out professionals might do to unwind—and try it out! (Groupon is a great place to look for new ideas.) People in a relaxed, social setting are usually more open to conversation, which makes this the perfect opportunity to open up, ask questions, and build new relationships.

2. Be In With the In Crowd

In nearly every big city, there are at least a few restaurants where the politicos, the PR people, or the state workers like to go to mingle with their own. Even professional chefs have their favorite after-hours haunts. And a little legwork or friendly conversation with a knowledgeable bartender will give you some ideas of the hot spots in your industry. So, pick your place, grab a friend, cozy up to the bar, and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Putting yourself (literally) next to other people in your field will increase your chances of networking success.

3. Take Up a Cause

Consider volunteering your time where your heart is. Pick a local church, animal sanctuary, or non-profit where you can put in a few hours after work or on a weekend alongside other people in your area. Or, lend your professional expertise to a neighborhood school: Put together a presentation (complete with handouts) about your field for career night, when parents (read: new contacts) are also in attendance.

4. Work It

Fundraisers usually have no trouble finding people who are happy to fork over $200, get dressed up, and enjoy the wine and hors d’oeuvres—what they really need is extra hands. So call your favorite charity and offer to work the registration desk. You’ll get to be there for the entire event, you’ll have a built-in chance to meet and talk with the (often high-profile) attendees, and you won’t have to pay a dime to do so.

5. Reconnect With Your Past

College and high school reunions or alumni events are the hidden gems of the networking world. They offer a room full of people with diverse interests and careers who you already know (or at least, who you have something to talk about with)! So, after you reminisce with your former classmates, club-mates, and sorority sisters, strike up a conversation about their careers, and talk about yours. Your old friends could be (or at least put you in touch with) valuable connections.

Whether you’re looking to leave your dead-end job or just want to connect with people who may lead you to your next career move, face-to-face networking is still one of the best job search tactics out there. And if you’re willing to think outside the box, it might actually be fun, too.

More Articles on Networking

Networking for Success: Navigating the Business Cocktail Party
Strengthening Your Client Relationships – and Your Muscles

Keep your Business Communication Skills Sharp: The Latest in Social Networking

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How to cultivate a professional communication style?

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News Olio

Looking to succeed in business? Work on developing competent communications skills in speaking and writing to enhance your professional image

Unless you want a career tucked away in a quiet little cubicle, start working on your communication skills. Interviewers of new job applicants look for a professional communication style when they recruit and hire new employees. And within the organization, you will have to compete with some pretty smooth talkers for that bonus, raise, or promotion.

How to cultivate a professional communication style?

Professional communicators share several key characteristics that help them stand out from the crowd and influence the people they work with. Here are some tips for developing a polished image through your use of language skills.

1. Focus your message on a central purpose. Don’t waste words in the business world where corporate writing can cost $1 to $5 per word. Make each message count, whether by telephone, speech, email, Web site, or post. Decide what your main point is and package it in a way that will appeal to your reader or listener. Brevity is a virtue for those with hectic schedules, so get to the point quickly and stay there.

2. Add a catchy opening. Jokes, riddles, quotes, short poems, pretests, and stories are great ways to grab people’s attention in a presentation or paper. Avoid being glib, corny, or cute. Make it short, but something that your audience can relate to. Setting the mood and establishing yourself as an expert are important to gaining the audience’s trust and holding their interest.

3. Include support details. Examples, illustrations, anecdotes, and descriptions can flesh out a dry point. Use support that your audience can relate to. For example, when addressing a group of farmers, use planting or harvesting analogies. If speaking to fire fighters, make reference to fire-related imagery. Find out ahead of time something about your audience demographics and plan your presentation accordingly. For example, if most attendees will be female, adjust your speech to suit feminine needs.

4. Look the part. Dress conservatively in the business world, but add a bright accent or personal decor item. A neon scarf or signature tie can seize the imagination of your audience. Avoid anything extreme or bohemian to be sure you invite your listeners’ respect rather than their curiosity.

5. Arrive early and greet guests. Looking at ease, introduce yourself or ask people’s names while shaking hands. Smile and engage in friendly conversation. When the presentation begins, ask your audience a question to engage them immediately. Continue to interact with listeners throughout the session.

6. Provide careful explanations that your audience can understand. People dislike when a speaker communicates at a level that is over their heads. On the other hand, don’t speak so simply that your hearers feel like you’ve underestimated them. Aim for a middle-of-the-road approach that will meet most of your audience’s needs for information.

7. Use visual aids or handouts to convey a complex idea. Whether in a document or part of a “live” session, adding a visual component is often greatly appreciated.

8. Be receptive to feedback from your audience. Answer questions, invite alternate views, and respond politely to hecklers, which will earn your listeners’ respect.

9. Seek feedback and continue to improve. Don’t give the same stale speech you’ve been making for twenty years. Tweak, revise, or change it completely to make your ideas relevant to the current generation. Take constructive criticism in a positive way as a means to help improve your delivery.

10. Enjoy communication for its own sake. People who like talking to others send a powerful message about the value of professional communication. Someone who reads from notes or an outline reflects discomfort with words and ideas. Plan a quality presentation, deliver it with gusto, and you’ll have listeners eating out of your hand.

An audience can tell a qualified speaker from one who is not. Follow these suggestions to make your next presentation the most effective yet and leave your audience clamoring for more.

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5 secrets to better networking

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CBS News
Tom Searcy

To channel management guru Peter Drucker, more business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no business school courses are given on the subject. So chew on this: If you want to boost your selling power, it pays to improve your networking skills.

It pays to prospect. Seek out places where potential customers gather. We are surrounded by networking opportunities, although you should never confuse networking with schmoozing.

“Schmoozing has the connotation that you are getting something from someone with no benefit to the other person,” says Diane Darling, author of “The Networking Survival Guide.” Prospective customers see right through that. “One of the biggest pet peeves I hear from people is that people want something from them without a thought of giving back.”

So you schmooze, you lose. Instead, to woo new prospects, you need to be willing to give before you start networking. Here are five of Darling’s top ways to network:

1. Ask questions before meetings. The first few minutes of any local business group meeting is an excellent time to network. The atmosphere is casual and the conversation is light. Ask two or three neutral questions, such as where a person previously worked. Another good opener is, “I’m curious, where are you originally from?” That is an easy, non-threatening way to find something you have in common.

2. Talk to fellow passengers. Practice networking while in transit. When you sit down, smile and say hello. Ask if your seat mate is heading to a meeting or heading home. Of course, you also should respect the person’s body language and personal space. If the person shifts away from you, that’s a sign he or she wants to be left alone.

3. Use a book as a prop. This is an anti-networking tip. When you network on planes and trains, carry a book or an e-reader and have it visible. “When you first talk to someone, this indicates that you have something else to do and won’t necessarily talk his or her ear off,” Darling says. And if the person turns out to be boring, she adds, you can begin reading right away.

4. Network at conferences and trade shows. When you have a booth, make a point of catching people’s eyes when they approach. “If the person is also an exhibitor, ask questions such as how many shows she or he typically attends in a year or what in particular she or he likes about this one,” Darling advises. If the person is an attendee, ask him before you do too much talking. Monopolize the listening, not the speaking. Remember, you learn more listening to others than talking their ears off. Don’t be that guy or gal.

5. Stalk, but nicely. If you’re attending a conference or trade show, consider if there is someone specific you want to meet. Read speakers’ bios. Make the connection a week or so in advance via e-mail and by phone. But don’t overcommit yourself. “You can quickly run out of time,” Darling warns, “and canceling appointments at shows is not professional.”

So what can you give the people you meet? Listen to their needs and then sincerely seek to connect them with the contacts, information, or prospects they are looking for. You will find that the more you feed others, the more you will get fed.

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10 tips for taking a better business head shot

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Susan Huston

 

Many people often cite public speaking as their greatest fear. However, there is another fear even the best public speakers can have. I call it photophobia: the fear of having your picture taken professionally.

I am not taking about a snapshot for your Facebook page or even your online dating profile, but a head shot from mid-chest up used as a professional image to accompany your résumé or other work-related material.

The No. 1 rule is: You want to look like yourself in your business head shot — not like Heidi, Gwyneth or Angelina on the cover of Vogue.

The photo needs to be a current image of yourself. As painful as you may think that is, there are tricks to looking like a younger, thinner and more glamorous version of you — without an army of makeup artists and hairstylists.

While I am not a photographer, I was on the other side of the camera for many years as a model. I know the fears people have, and as an aging model, the fear only increases. Here are 10 tips to help you get that great professional head shot.

1. Sit up straight and lean forward a bit from your waist. That little lean stretches your neck and smoothes out some of those double chins and creeping lines that start to follow us every place we go as we get older. Also, lift your chin slightly so that you look more confident. (This also helps with the double chin.) Using this trick, those features you dislike can disappear.

2. Practice in front of a mirror. Don’t worry so much about your smile (it’s supposed to come naturally). Rather, practice twisting and turning your head to find the angle that shows off your best facial features. Remember the pose so that you can fall into it naturally when you get in front of the camera. When you lift and tilt your face a bit, the harsh lighting the photographer often uses will make shadows disappear naturally. You want to be confident when you step in front of the camera, and practice makes perfect.

3. Pay attention to your body. Even if your photo is just a head shot, put your hand on your hip to keep your arms from pressing against your body. This trick gives you slimmer-looking arms in the photo. Practice a few poses to find the best way to turn your body.

4. Smile. Sometimes it’s hard to smile naturally in front of a camera, so try an old acting trick to bring out your inner smile. Think of something funny or pleasant, or of someone who makes you happy. You are trying to get a smile that brings a sparkle to your eye. You can even close your eyes for a second before opening them slowly to help achieve that. Just be sure you work with the photographer and let him or her know what you are doing.

5. Be confident. You want your photo to project confidence, and this is always easier if you feel like you look your best. You will feel your best by being comfortable in the clothing you wear in the photo. Know your own body type so that you choose a style that is you and that fits and flatters your image.

6. Keep your wardrobe simple. Stay away from loud prints and distracting colors. Instead, wear a solid color that looks great with your skin tone. Don’t wear black or white — both colors can look harsh in front of the camera. As an alternative, try navy. This is a slimming choice, too. Check out the color you decide to use against a white wall. That’s the backdrop photographers often use, so doing this will show you if the color you have chosen is your best option. As a general rule, avoid too many accessories. The focus should be on your face, not your jewelry or wild clothing.

7. Watch your diet — sort of. If you are worried about your weight, stay away from water-retaining foods with lots of sodium to avoid that dreaded bloat. Cutting back on carbs for a few days can’t hurt, either.

8. Don’t overdo or underdo makeup. Keep your makeup natural-looking. However, this does not mean to skip it altogether. Use foundation to cover blemishes, and use powder only in the T-zone. If you have fine lines, the powder will automatically cling to and emphasize them. The photographer’s light will bring out the shine, so you will need to use some powder — but just in the right places.

Stay away from frosted eye shadows and blush if you are over 30. The lights on set will pick up the shine and enlarge those areas. Remember, light and shiny colors make things appear larger. Dark colors recede and makes things look smaller. Look for matte shadows and blusher without flecks of shine. Practice using matte shades, because blending them will take time and practice.

Lip gloss makes your lips shine, which reflects light and will make your lips look larger. Instead, go for a natural lip color. To find your best color, pull down your lip and look at the inside of it — that is the color you want to match. Use that matte color first, then, depending on whether your lips are large or small, use a slight touch of lip gloss. Unless you are under 30, avoid a bright red lip. That darker color often appears harsher in a photo. Also avoid lip colors with brown tones; they will make your teeth look dull.

9. Speaking of teeth: Take the time to use whitening toothpaste or get your teeth professionally whitened before the shoot. Your smile will be the main focus of your photo.

10. Listen to your photographer. Talk with the photographer before, during and after the shoot. He is the expert and can see what you cannot see as the model. If you are comfortable with the photographer before you step in front of the camera, you will almost always get a more natural photo. Remember: The photographer wants you to look great, too.

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