Article #22, May 31, 2004
Judgement Day is Every Day
While you may not realize it, you are being judged constantly – especially in business situations. Having a great haircut may not be important to you, but trust me when I tell you that potential customers and business partners are making assumptions based on all aspects of your appearance.
Are your shoes in good condition? How good is the quality of your clothing? Your appearance gives a message about your level of success and could communicate much more. If your handbag/purse is worn out, you may be communicating that you can’t afford a new one, which could mean your business is not doing well, which could mean you aren’t very good at your chosen profession. None of this may be true, or it might! On the other hand, if you carry a very expensive ($hundreds) handbag it may communicate that you are careless with your money or that you overcharge for your services. Depending on your type of business, you need to be careful about this. I wouldn’t want my CPA decked out in diamonds, for example.
The next level of judgment is your business communication materials. What does your business card say about you? Did you print it on your home computer on perforated business card stock you got at the business supply store? That screams CHEAP and unprofessional. If you got your cards at VistaPrint.com, did you spring for the extra $5 to get the Vista Print logo taken off the back? If not, everyone knows you got your cards for free. Again, this communicates that you can’t afford to be in business.
Examine your website and email. Do they communicate “serious business person” or hobbyist trying to make a few bucks on the side? If your business email ends with yahoo or hotmail, everyone knows those are free. If you want to look the most professional, get a business email account. Ending your email with @earthlink or @aol, etc. is not as professional as having firstname.lastname@example.org. And please, put your email on your business card. You don’t want people assuming you don’t know how to use a computer, even if you don’t!
If you don’t have a website, I suggest getting at least a web page. Buy a domain name (GoDaddy.com is pretty inexpensive) and put one page together. Put your picture on it with some interesting content that answers your prospects’ questions or solves their problems and invites them to take some action of some kind. DO NOT put up a page that’s all about you – nobody really cares about you in business; they care about themselves.
On the other hand, what assumptions are you making about people? Do you assume overweight people are not as intelligent or capable as thin people? Do you make assumptions based on gender? Race? Lifestyle? Age? How about a person’s car – do you assume someone is smarter if their car is neat and clean – or the opposite? Do you assume someone with an expensive car is a snob?
We all need to have filters to qualify prospects or we can easily become overwhelmed. However, making assumptions can hurt us, too. Be careful not to sabotage yourself by judging too severely or by not paying attention to what you are communicating!