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Owning Your Image

Owning Your Image
A local lady specializes in helping clients hone their professional impressions. Read on to learn about which considerations she thinks are important in the working world.

 

081511CAREER.jpgThere is good news in this world of hyper-connectivity, says Jill Haney, founder of JH Image Consulting. Although it is easy to tarnish one's professional reputations through a variety of face-to-face or technological slip-ups, she says, keeping image in check is all about retaining sole power over reputation.

 

"If we're not controlling our image, others are controlling it for us, and they're not controlling it the way we want it to be," Haney says. "I feel that what I do is very empowering. The feedback I get from others is great: They remove barriers they didn't even know there."

 

As owner of her image consulting firm, Haney is mostly contracted by corporations - large and small - to speak with new hires about different facets of image: appearance, behavior, communication and etiquette. Haney works with a variety of groups in this capacity. "In one week's time, I was working with plumbers and then later on that week, I was working with financial advisers," Haney says. "I've spoken to high school students and college students, and I've gone over dining etiquette for a sixth grade class."

 

As an image consultant working for so many different types of companies, there is only one constant Haney can take for granted during her workshops, she says. "What I have learned over the years that is I can't assume people know any of this stuff. Our society is different in that an emphasis hasn't really been placed on knowing this," Haney says.

 

For this reason, the emphasis varies for each workshop Haney gives, she says. Her area of expertise ranges from which fork is used for salad to how to dress the part. "Some people don't know that bankers typically dress in white dress shirts and blue dress shirts," Haney says. "It's about giving them a clear road map of what that looks like."

 

Haney first got into the field informally, when she and a friend opened a shoe and clothing store. "Before then, I had friends that asked me to clean out their closets and go shopping with them for professional outfits. Then when we opened the store, I had customers ask me about these things. People started giving me credibility and respect in these areas, then I started to research how image influences perception," she says. "People don't realize that it's a lot easier than we think it is." Haney then proceeded to get officially trained and certified as an image consultant.

 

Despite her training in the field and regular attendance at image consulting conferences, Haney says the burgeoning online world presents a new frontier in her field. "People just aren't aware of the role an online presence plays," she says. "With teenagers, I'm just shocked at what I see on Facebook. Because of that, college and job offers are being rescinded. Once it's out there, it's out there for everyone to read."

 

But the problem of over-sharing or inappropriate posts isn't specific to teenagers, Haney says. Without thinking, everyone - including her - has probably committed an online faux pas. "I had my Facebook page as my personal page and LinkedIn as my professional page," she says. "I 'liked' a page representing a political philosophy, but you do not discuss politics at work. So, we've all made mistakes, but don't make the same mistakes again."

 

Although it can be hard to correct mistakes once they've been made in the vast cyberspace world, actions can be taken to address professional issues with an online identity, Haney says. "Well, I am by no means a social media expert, but if your email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and you're trying to get college internships, that's not the right name," she says.

 

Haney says she can't predict how much online identity will play a role in image consulting, but she thinks there will always be multiple facets to maintaining a professional image. "Business, dining and social etiquette skills all come together to work on being the total package," she ays. "You want the people you meet to walk away from a conversation, interview or meeting and say, 'Wow, that person really has it together.'"

Alyssa Howard -

Alyssa Howard is Cincy Chic's editor. Email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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