How-To, Presence-Men, Professional Presence

Using Clothing is a Top Communication Strategy

Today, in this post, I advise that using clothing is a top communication strategy.  The way I want to make this audacious proposal is by, of course, telling a story.  I think you’ll like it!

Last week, I had an outstanding experience with a returning client.  He worked his way up to the top spot of his area of expertise at a publicly traded company.  That ladder climbing activity happened after he and I worked together a number of years ago.  A number of weeks ago, we reconnected, and he offered up a story with some stunning feedback.  He honored me, our work together, and his own efforts as he relayed a story to me.

Very simply, he stated that our work together all those years ago taught him to own his confidence with ease.  This was one strategy that helped him to step up the ladder to bigger roles and responsibilities.  But, there was a strategy behind the executive coaching strategy I taught him.  And what was that, you ask?  I explained then how using clothing is a top communication strategy.

Yes, you’ve got that right.  The clothing he shows up in on any given day provides for easy confidence and assists in his communication efforts.

By the way, this man’s expertise is marketing!

So, the marketing maven came back to work with me at a defining moment of his career.  He was on the hunt for the next step in his career.  What kind of company would he work for?  Where would it be?  Just what would his role and responsibilities be?  Based on some preliminary discussions, I knew that he’d take a high-level role.  Only this time, he wouldn’t ascend to that position.  It’s now his starting point.

Knowing this, I began to curate a totally revamped wardrobe.  Also, insights from a new personal style profile provided a fresh perspective about where he’s heading.  All of this information began to tell me a story.  In turn, it’s a story that I would re-tell back to him by using clothing as a top communication strategy.

He showed up at my studio on last Friday.  Together, we went through the presentation of clothing, footwear, coordinating belts, and socks.  I had all the looks ready for him.  On the presentation wall, it told a very clear story – to me. So, I explained how using this set of clothing as a top communication strategy helps him to achieve new success.

After all, what the heck was he going to want to communicate?  I knew a bit more about the answer to that question then he could initially articulate.  So, I’d talk for a bit, pause, and ask if this sounds right.  I couldn’t make up what I was advising.  Based on his input, and on that trusty style profile, it was obvious what he would need to communicate.

What I knew is that his new employer is a software company with an irreverent culture.  He will now be based in San Francisco, and not in the Silicon Valley.  He’d be one of the most senior figureheads in the San Francisco office.  I also knew that he is coming with a very successful track record.  But, not everyone he’d be working with would know that yet.  So, it would be great for him to show up with that A-game mindset.  Additionally, I know him to be totally ideas driven, friendly and approachable, and fully responsible to turn out excellent results.

So, I was able to parse through each item on the wall, describing the usefulness of each piece. We thought of when, for example, one very special print shirt would come out of “reserve.”  He will use it strategically for some very special upcoming circumstances.  Everything else supports his daily work activities.  It’s important that he fits in to a new workplace culture while remaining authentic to his spirit.

Using clothing is a top communication strategy because, when done very well, will help you to tell your story.  This client, let alone any of my clients, will never verbally communicate the story that the clothes communicate.  The part of the story that this client’s clothes communicate are:

“If you climb into my brain you’ll find that I’m an ideas guy! Look at me, I’m friendly and approachable!  At the end of the day, I’m all about driving optimum results!  Oh yeah, at my last company, I was a total success.”

All sounds pretty pompous if you say it out loud, don’t you think? 

The thing is, this client, and probably you, too, has no interest in being pompous.  Not even in the slightest.  His focus is to start the new job feeling and showing up at ease so that he contributes immediately.  As a result of using clothing as a top communication tool, he will show up as a man of action.  His wardrobe functions to serve the purpose of telling his story so he doesn’t have to.  He’s got easy confidence, and the path of his future success lies before him.

All he has to do is walk in on Monday and get to work.

Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs and executives discover their personal brands and design their personal styles.  Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know “6 Secrets to Success in Silicon Valley.” Get details about Joseph’s proven program that transforms your life through personal brand and style development.

My role, as a personal brand and style strategist, is that of a storyteller. I learn about a person’s personality and strengths, translate that into an appropriate personal style aesthetic, and help each client to visually and non-verbally tell her or his story with ease and authenticity.