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How to Make People Think You Are Successful Within 5 Seconds of Meeting Them


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The answer is simple: Look the part.

Of course, that all stops as soon as you open your mouth to speak, so you’ll at least have to sound smart as well.

It might sound obvious, but a 2011 Canadian study involving 87 university students found that professionally dressed men came off as more successful and were expected to make more money. The sloppily dressed men were expected to be made fun of at work.

A more recent 2013 Turkish study closed in on what exactly a man should wear to come off as more successful, and the answer is not surprising.“The man was rated more positively on all attributes apart from trustworthiness when pictured in the bespoke suit ... On the evidence of this study it appears men may be advised to purchase clothing that is well‐tailored, as it can positively enhance the image they communicate to others.”

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So the lesson here is if you want to come off as successful in those first five seconds of meeting someone, whether you are a man or woman, wear a suit. Look nice. Comb your hair, trim your nails and shave if you have to. That Zuckerberg jeans-and-hoodie look only works after you are a billionaire. Don’t try to look hot or sexy either, as that actually lowers other people’s perception of your power and success.

Holding a glass of Scotch while wearing a suit will either give you a ton more swagger and/or make you look like an alcoholic — the gamble is yours to make.

Here's what the experts advise:

• Look like you care about how you look. "Carelessness seems to signal that you don't respect your coworkers or yourself," says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of "Executive Presence." "You certainly don't respect the client if you show up with soup on your tie or bitten nails, anything to make you look unkempt." 

• Tailor your look to the situation. "If it's Microsoft, it's one outfit; in the US Army, it's another," says longtime executive recruiter Russell Reynolds. "You have to look like you belong to the group, [and] you have to look a little better than the group." To do that, Hewlett says to "pattern yourself" after someone who's particularly good at dressing a bit better than the rest of the group. 

• Stay away from the suggestive. "For women, a major blunder is sexually provocative clothing," Hewlett says. "It's tremendously undermining of your gravitas, because it's either distracting or threatening. No matter your projection of your capabilities, if your skirt is too short or your neckline too plunging, you get struck off the list for a big client meeting or a promotion." 

SEE ALSO: Science says people decide these 9 things within seconds of meeting you

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