Who wants to have a bad image? Probably and hopefully, no one. The often-expressed adage, attributed to Will Rogers says, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Impressions, or the perceptions that people have of someone else matter a lot! Impressions matter in business and in personal relationships. An impression, good or not so good about a person has a direct impact on how a person is liked, trusted and even treated. As author J. K. Rowling said, “A good first impression can work wonders.” Whether it is a first impression or multiple impressions later, it is important to create a good impression.
People who help others with their image are called “image consultants.” Image consulting is a professional field that is large and growing. According to the business registry Manta, there are 6,870 Personal Image Consultants in the United States. That figure may be too small because image consulting consists largely of small businesses, often self-employed entrepreneurs, and it covers many areas of personal image.
The aim of image consulting is to help clients personally or professionally by focusing on areas of appearance, behavior and communication. Image consultants are often experts in grooming, fashion, personal style, clothes-buying and dressing practices. It also can include body language and etiquette. The outcomes can include getting more respect, getting a raise at work, generating more personal confidence, getting a job or getting a date. Yes, image matters.
How to Become Successful as an Image Consultant
Success as an image consultant is evaluated by positive affirmations to these four questions:
- Is this a career that you will be happy in and offer work that you can enjoy?
- Can you reach key financial goals?
- Achieve profitability so the cash generated meets personal financial needs.
- Achieve a positive return on investment, financial and time investment included.
- Can you make a difference in this career, seizing the opportunity to improve the lives of others?
- Can you generate a sizable client base, and retain them, resulting in a going-forward business?
Can anyone become an image consultant? The answer is a qualified “yes.” The key requirements are:
- To have a great sense of style and an understanding of clothes and fashion, with an eye for appearance. Further, a real passion for image.
- To have a desire to change and improve people’s lives. A quality of caring for others.
- The ability to work largely on your own, initiating action and being open to personal challenges.
- The ability to interact confidently with others in order to earn their trust.
- The ability to set personal boundaries on time so that this important work doesn’t compromise other relationships, including those with family and close friends.
- The desire to keep going, keep learning and keep serving.
Clients, both individually and as companies, can be helped in the following ways. They can:
- Improve their sense of style.
- Get better clothes shopping skills.
- Learn more about the proper use of color and how to color-match.
- Gain more self-confidence.
- Improve social skills.
- Address and correct body image issues.
- Improve speech skills and correct improper speech habits.
Success as an image consultant is achieved as it is achieved in other businesses by having a strong focus and actively working to obtain it. You can’t just “open your doors and they will come.” Use these suggested steps to achieve the career of your dreams:
- Research the industry and look at competitors in your region to see what they do and how they are succeeding.
- Take related college course work, in such areas as art, psychology and fashion merchandising.
- Gain some valuable practical experience by working as a stylist, a beauty consultant at a department store makeup counter, or a sales associate at a clothing store.
- Acquire industry-specific training and certification in image consulting. There are schools that provide this along with certification programs ranging from 3-day programs to months-long programs. The London Image Institute, based in Atlanta, GA is an excellent example.
- Create a formal written business plan. That should include determining a special focus for your business along with defining ways that you can set yourself apart from competitors. Acknowledge ways to work from your personal strengths. Develop strategies leading to success.
- Develop a financial plan including how and when you can expect to make a profit and how you’ll pay yourself. Make this plan realistic. Know that many businesses fail because they don’t plan to have enough funds to keep the business going. Set up your financial accounts so that you can track and analyze your financial progress regularly.
- Develop a marketing plan.
How to Build a Client Base
Obviously, without clients, there is no business.
- Success begins with marketing, so implement the marketing plan that you have established. People need to find you and understand your services. Your efforts should include setting up a good website that is SEO-enabled and mobile-friendly. Also, set up social media accounts then actively post to them. Create content that will let clients know who you are, that you are real and approachable and that you can truly help them. Good online marketing is essential for image consulting.
- Prepare materials that will help you communicate with others. A professionally designed and attractive business card along with some hand-out materials are expected by others. Create a quality-looking portfolio that will demonstrate what you can do for someone else.
- Actively network. Join appropriate organizations that will help you connect with others.
- Get a couple of “sample clients” to start with free “makeovers” that will give you experience and provide credibility. Get their recommendations. Family and friends are good places to start. Or, offer your services to local charities with some limits, of course.
- Find ways to get people talking.
- Deliver on your promises. Do good work and get people to refer you to others.
Begin Your Career as an Image Consultant Today
Think about how gratifying it will be to help people improve their image and see greater success and happiness in their lives.
For training through a professional image consultant course, and to achieve the success you desire, contact the London Image Institute. Founded in 1989, the London Image Institute has been committed to training professional image consultants for over 30 years. Our objective is to contribute to a world in which all people have the courage and freedom to flourish.