Just in case you’ve never met me, let me describe myself. I’m 5′ 1½″ tall. I’m curvy and a bit plump. It would be very easy to overlook me except for one thing. I’m taller than I look.
I know that sounds odd, but I’m mostly serious. One woman told me recently that I have a presence. When I walk into a room I look confident and in control. I take command without ever speaking a word. I’ve heard variations of that for the last several years. To be honest, I’m not sure I really believe it completely. What I do know, though, is that people often think I’m the one in charge, even in situations where I’m not.
I’ve been thinking about this recently, and I think I’ve got it partly figured out. First of all, I tend to have good posture. Maybe it’s partly because I’m so short. Maybe it’s partly because I walked slightly bent over, sort of like an ape, when I was a girl. (Seeing a picture of myself walking across the background of a scene made me see the need for changing that.) Whatever the reason, when I walk I stand straight.
Secondly, I tend to dress well. I’m no fashionista, but I generally wear clothes that fit me well and flatter my figure. I try to make sure that what I wear projects the image I want. Usually that’s neat, dark jeans with a business casual top of some kind. I often wear jackets. I frequently wear things that promote my business. In a sea of t-shirts and sweats, I’m an anomaly.
Also, I make eye contact. I realized one day while walking through a mall that very few people make initial eye contact. I do. That means I walk with my head up and my eyes searching faces. I even smile at people. I know—it’s shocking. The smile is probably one of the big things that makes me stand out.
Finally, I speak to people with confidence. I love people, and I enjoy engaging them in conversation. When I see someone wearing something I like, I tell them so. If I’m waiting in line I strike up a conversation with the person in front of or behind me. I’ve met a lot of interesting people this way. I feel it’s important for me to point out one thing about these conversations. They aren’t always about business. I’m almost never the first person to bring up my business, unless I’m explaining how I know something. While I do find business everywhere, I am not someone who turns every conversation into a sales pitch. My connections with people are about them.
So, how are you presenting yourself to the world? Do you slip into a room or do you stride into it? Are you inconspicuous or hard to miss? Are you part of the background or front and center? There’s nothing wrong with either. I just think you need to be aware of what you project.
Me? I’m taller than I look.