Here’s another important tip for always giving a great impression and why Billabong shorts are not good for a chartered accountant

February 17, 2012

I was having a conversation with a team member the other day about first impressions. He was saying that it was ‘out of order’ for anybody to judge anybody else on how they dressed, what car they drove etc.

He may have a point but the fact is, in business, people will judge you on how you look and they will judge you quickly.

If I, as a chartered accountant, turned up at your office in jeans, it immediately gives a bad impression. Why? Because you would be expecting someone in my profession to dress smart.

I learnt this in the first week of being a trainee accountant when I got told off by my manager for walking down to reception to get lunch without my suit jacket. He said that you should always be consistent with how you dress. If you win a client dressed in a suit, you must always wear a suit, you must be consistent.

So for me, suits, smart shoes, nice ties are a must. For you, it may be different but it has to be consistent. Anything less smart than the first time you met, people will think (even subconsciously) that standards are slipping or you are not as bothered about them as you once were.

So how far do you take this? Do you have to dress consistently outside of work or can you get away with looking smart at work and dressing down outside.

I thought so, until something very bad happened to me (yes, what follows is yet another story that makes me look silly, this is the last one though for a while, my next blog will be a yarn that makes me look great!)……

At my business networking group on Tuesday mornings, I’m always dressed up smart. However, I took a different view outside of work. I dressed badly, basically. It didn’t seem to matter since I never seemed to bump into clients or business associates outside of the office until one of my contacts bumped into me at the Kirkstall fair.

I was happy to have a chat with him, the only problem was that I was dressed in a Quiksilver hawaiian shirt and billabong shorts (you know, the ones that go past your knees). In essence, the sort of gear a fourteen year old would wear.

The conversation went fine and I thought nothing of it.

Until, I saw him at the networking group on the following Tuesday and he announced in front of about 7 esteemed colleagues:

“I didn’t know you were a skater”

The funny thing was that he wasn’t being funny, he was being dead serious. I had to explain to the 7 colleagues how I wasn’t a skater but I just dressed like a fourteen year old because, well, I don’t have any clothes – who knows why!!!

Those clothes went to St Gemma’s.

Whatever you wear, be consistent!

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