At Work – Creating a polished image

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In September, the Black Network of New York (http://w3.dng.com/ bnny), a tristate area diversity networking group serving IBM Corp.’s Black professionals, organized its first ever event for women only. Titled “Women of Color: Images of Excellence Leadership Forum,” the one-day event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in White Plains, N.Y., featured a rich menu of workshops covering such topics as financial health, handling professional challenges, dealing with challenging conversations, retirement, your image in the workplace and pampering yourself “when you need a boost.”

Women corporate high achievers presented the 45-minute workshops, including current and former IBM executives.  Marilyn D. Johnson, vice president of market development at IBM, led the workshop on “creating and maintaining a balanced, polished image.” Her session explored a number of issues: Why it is important to consider the image you project to others in the workplace; how your image can help or hurt you career; how to appear “balanced and polished” in today’s relaxed work environment without seeming artificial or too formal; whether image is more than just clothing and makeup. Here, in her own words, are her five techniques for creating and maintaining the image she deems critical for enhancing your professional career.

  • Positive conversation. “Your conversation can be a weapon or a tool. Every time you speak, you have the capacity to destroy or build. Choose build.”
  • Observant participation. “Become an effective listener and choose to be accountable for your role in solving a problem.”
  • Lucid communication. “A polished image is evidence of your ability to clearly communicate.”
  • Impeccable presentation. “Visual image is important. Take time to prepare yourself every day.”
  • Sagacious implementation. “Develop a clear knowledge of the relevant information in your industry. Develop the wisdom to know when to follow and when to lead.”
  • Harmonious living. “As you invest in your future, you will need spiritual support and rejuvenation. You will need harmony of mind, body and spirit. Your mind develops the plan, your body carries out the plan, your spirit nourishes relationships and your soul nourishes you.”