The Influence Game

There are many books written by renowned experts on the subject of influencing others. If you’re in sales, you’ve probably read some of them. There are only three centers of influence, however. 

The first is New York, home of the powerful financial center, Wall Street and international banks. Money gives you clout in this arena.

The second power center is Washington, D.C., the political center of influence. Here, power is what gives you clout. 

The third great center of influence is Hollywood, whose influence reaches far beyond the big screen. Rock stars and some celebrity athletes and fashion models are included in this category of powerful influencers. Celebrity status bestows clout. Well-known stars get invitations to the White House, but they don’t usually hang out with Wall Street bankers. 

Hollywood is the only group that can afford to look very, very sexy or outrageous. It goes with the territory. Not all forms of influence are positive, and some stars do their fans an injustice with their outrageous behavior and appearance. 

Politicians and bankers who land in jail will find their careers ruined. Not so with celebrities. As long as you remain “beautiful,” you are forgiven. In fact, most of us are secretly attracted to the “bad boys” and “bad girls” of Hollywood. It’s another story for politicians and business people. Being attractive may get you elected, but it won’t get you out of jail. 

If you’re a serious business professional or politician, these attributes will help you get ahead:

• An image that conveys immediate credibility and trust.

• Executive presence that says you are an expert and a leader in your field.

• Charm and charisma. If you weren’t born with these attributes, make every effort to develop them.

• An attractive appearance. There are no unattractive people, only those who haven’t learned how to look attractive. In addition, make sure you know the difference between being “overtly” and “covertly” sexy. The former is the kiss of death outside Hollywood, and the latter is the icing on the cake in terms of your image—and it has nothing to do with Hollywood Glamour.

So what does it mean to be covertly sexy? Here are the guidelines:

• A man’s dark, well-tailored business suit is innately sexy. It makes a man’s shoulders look broad and his torso look slim, while the dark color from head to toe makes him appear taller and slimmer. Add a red power tie, and you’ve just increased your sexiness ten-fold. In the financial services arena, make that tie a dark red or a burgundy. According to university studies, a high status look attracts females in all of the animal kingdom, not just humans; and red is sexiness personified in color psychology. 

• Women have endless possibilities in terms of ways they can be covertly sexy. Just take lips, hair, and eyes for a start. Of course, not all hair is sexy and alluring, only those locks that look healthy, radiant, and stylish. Some religions require headscarves so that a long, gleaming head of lustrous hair doesn’t become so irresistible that it can corrupt. As for lips, there is nothing more alluring than full, pouty lips that are rich with color. Smoky eyes also draw others in irresistibly, just as Mona Lisa’s smoky eyes do. Lastly, a woman’s hourglass shape is innately sexy, as are the shape of her legs. A skirted suit that is tailored is both commanding and covertly sexy. A baggy “daddy jacket” and mid-calf skirt lowers credibility as well as your perceived attractiveness.

Here are clothing choices to avoid at all costs:

• Khakis. They look baggy and make a man look sloppy and heavier. Most women dislike them.

• Polos. Unlike dress shirts with their built in epaulets, polo shirts are limp and make the shoulders look sloping, so you look weary, especially in drab colors. 

• Drab colors. They make you appear drab, tired, and even older. This includes olive green, drab shades of brown and burgundy, mustard, and slate blue.

• Five-inch heels. They cause you to walk precariously, and it’s not an asset in business.

• Gladiator-style shoes aren’t even remotely attractive since they cover most of the foot, making the legs appear shorter and even stubby. 

• Mid-calf and ankle-length skirts. They make you appear “weighed down” by their length and create a long, severe line. 

If you’re in the financial services sector, your dress code is much more rigid than that of politicians, sales managers, business executives, and CEOs. You’re the only one who doesn’t look severe in pinstripe suits because it says you’re a member of the “tribe,” and the tribe appreciates the resemblance between ledger sheets and all those long “columnar” stripes seen on pinstripe suits. 

What kind of influencer are you? You can increase both your power and your ability to influence if you know the rules of the game when it comes to image.  

Sandy Dumont is an image consultant who speaks on the subject of image throughout the world. This month, she will launch her latest book for women, “Classy Casual.”  For more info., visit 

Sandy Dumont

Sandy Dumont, The Image Architect, is a sought-after stylist and image consultant in the arena of corporate, political and celebrity image and has spoken to audiences throughout the USA, Europe and Asia. Sandy is a prolific writer and has published numerous books, eBooks and DVDs. Her books and speaking style employ psychological insights into how we perceive color, judge wardrobes and incorporate (or don't) social norms into our daily lives.

Sandy is a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA) and Past President of NSA Virginia, and Past President of the SE Virginia chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO. She consults with individuals and corporations and also conducts corporate and individual image makeover workshops on the subject of impression management and image skills. Sandy is also a keynote speaker at conferences both nationally and in Europe and Asia. She also does online image consulting and image makeovers for individuals and groups. 

Sandy Dumont has appeared on radio, TV and in print throughout the world. She was recently featured in a cover story with Money Magazine. In December 2009, she was the recipient of the Women in Business Achievement Award.

Sandy Dumont, The Image Architect, is MORE than an Image Consultant. For information, visit or call 757-627-6669.

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