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ON MY OWN – The power of image

Judette Coward-Puglisi

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WHAT MAKES A PERSON appear powerful? Successful? Does looking successful have anything to do with how someone is perceived?We have long accepted that “perception is reality” and, for better or worse, we often judge people based on their appearance. Think about the following two scenarios, for instance.If an advertising executive appears at your door with an Afro hairstyle at a time when every other executive is sporting straight hair, will you automatically assume she is creative, has a strong sense of self and is not afraid to express herself?Alternatively, if a financial consultant drops by with a spanking new Audi and a Rolex watch, will you feel that your money is in safe hands? Answered yes to both questions?Then to a great extent you believe that image is everything.Often we judge people based strictly on their appearance – that’s why some CEOs and politicians spend a great deal of time and money on image consultants who help them build a powerful image.How does one go about cultivating an air of power and importance? I have a few ideas; if you consider them a bit superficial, think about powerful people you know and you’ll find that most subscribe to these rules.Ever notice how inaccessible powerful people really are? To get to them, you have to go through their personal assistants.Lesson learnt? In crafting a successful image always have someone else, an assistant, screen your calls. If you can’t get a secretary then get an answering service, but never answer  the phone directly.Always return your calls, though; it’s no good forsaking professionalism in the name of power.A powerful person is never idle. I once read that if a client calls your office and you’re having lunch, always have your assistant say you’re in a meeting with a client. Taking a stress break? You’re meeting with a client.Took time off to collect the dry cleaning? You guessed it – you’re still in a meeting with a client. The fact is that powerful people do not meet with everyone who wants to meet them. They think of themselves as a classy restaurant or a popular nightclub.Getting in such places is supposed to be difficult. They create artificial line-ups and make people wait to get in. Just make sure that the ideas you have are worth waiting for.Power involves being present at important functions. These include trade shows, conferences, dinners, seminars and concerts. Such events are good places to network with other leading people and make your own status known.Who you know says a lot about who you are, and powerful people know other powerful people. Those in the know are continuously building their contact list. They get to know who the movers and shakers are, and count CEOs, politicians, local celebrities and media people among their associates and friends.As picky as powerful people are about who they associate with, they also are picky about which projects they accept. They develop a keen eye for good ideas and which projects deserve their attention. They do not accept every new idea thrown their way.