IN TODAY’S highly competitive and global business arena, success requires more than academic accomplishments, technical skills and experience.

Your personal image expresses your attitude, competence, credibility, professionalism and status. Your personal image is a powerful communication tool and gives you the extra edge when it matters.

A good first impression is necessary for creating positive impact. You never know when you may meet someone who can help your career or extend social and business opportunities. You should polish your image to:

1. Improve your presence and visibility;

2. Increase self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth;

3. Leave a lasting and positive first impression;

4. Handle any social and business situations with ease and confidence;

5. Maximise your strengths and greatest potential;

6. Improve prospects for career advancement;

7. Invite new social and business opportunities;

8. Distinguish yourself from others;

9. Take you extra miles ahead of your competitors; and

10. Be well-liked and welcomed in any situation.

Everyone can improve their personal image. You can successfully manage and influence other people’s perceptions of you simply by projecting the right visual image and behavioural style.

Here are some tips on how to improve your image:

1. Look well-groomed

This is the first thing people notice about you. For women, make-up is one of the easiest ways to update and enhance your look. Wearing appropriate make-up shows that you take care of your image. Avoid heavy and dated make-up — people will remember your eye shadow but not what you said. Men: avoid the unshaven look as it appears unprofessional.

2. Dress well

What you wear projects your personality and professionalism. Learn which styles work best for you, and invest in the best quality you can afford as these clothes look and feel better, and last longer. Bear in mind that price is not always an indication of quality. Check for craftsmanship, fabrics used as well as comfort for every item.

3. The power of colour

Many people underestimate the importance of colour in enhancing their appearance. Colour is a language people respond to, and knowing how to use colours to your advantage will bring your work and social wardrobe to life. A colour analysis with a qualified image consultant will show you exactly which range and shades of colours are best for your clothing, make-up and accessories.

4. Invest in a great hairstyle

Achieving a polished look starts with a hairstyle that suits your face shape and lifestyle. People who have greasy and messy hair will not leave a positive impression, no matter how confident they appear.

5. Good manners and etiquette

Good manners make people comfortable and are a sign of your consideration for the feelings of others. Etiquette is about correct and acceptable behaviour in social and business settings. Polish these essential “soft skills” that will give you the competitive edge you need.

6. Mind your body language

Body language is an area that is often overlooked but is crucial to making a great first impression. Communication can occur without any words being spoken. Poor body language can indicate lack of confidence and low self-esteem. Using positive body language effectively can make you appear more approachable, confident and professional.

7. Don’t forget to smile

A genuine smile will break barriers and draws people to you like a magnet. When meeting and greeting someone for the first time, make sure you have a sincere smile on your face. Avoid a forced smile that doesn’t reach your eyes as it may appear insincere.

Developing a polished and professional image may require a small investment of time and money, such as updating your wardrobe or asking an image consultant for advice, but the result — a self-confident and well-groomed new you — will be worth it. Remember, both people and diamonds have real market value once they are polished.