By Sue Cloete-Hopkins
Recently I attended a presentation on how to use LinkedIn to drive sales for your business. The venue was neat and the presenter even neater, but what really struck me was the appearance of the attendees. Here was a room full of entrepreneurs who were there to learn how to sell themselves and their businesses, but who seemed to think that it really didn’t matter how they looked (possibly because LinkedIn is a “behind-the-scenes” way of selling oneself).
It got me thinking about when we, as entrepreneurs and the ambassadors of our business brands, feel it’s okay to dress down. Why do we feel that, digitally, we must present ourselves and our businesses as well-put-together, smart-thinking and problem-solving experts but, in a face-to-face situation, we’re okay with coming across as unprepared, scruffy and low on self-esteem?
During the presentation, I got the feeling that I was in a roomful of people who lack the self-belief that is needed for entrepreneurial success. Not one person there spoke to me unless I spoke to them first, and most of the entrepreneurs disappeared as soon as the presentation was over. I stayed to network and connect with the few entrepreneurs who remained – the few who didn’t stand in a queue of silence to speak to the presenter.
While I am a fan of an effective LinkedIn page that attracts the right target market, I am also a fan of the ability to confidently and assertively communicate in person. As an entrepreneur, you should be prepared to confidently introduce yourself and your business, you should display interest in other human beings, and you should be open to the possibility of finding your next client at a training event. Oh, and if you’re attending an event where you are sure to find yourself among professionals you have not yet met, I strongly urge you to dress for success. Dress professionally and appropriately. Dress as if you’re about to win your next deal.
My top tips are:
- Believe in yourself and your professional image. Ask yourself, how is your self-belief aligned with how you present yourself in person?
- Be ready to connect with other individuals with a confident handshake and an authentic interest in what they do. Who knows, they might require your products or services.
- Practice selling your professional self at every face-to-face opportunity – from official networking events to training events and even social engagements over the weekend. Make sure that your “real self” matches up to your “digital self”.