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Image consultants: Societal demand for image consultants

With Indian businessmen and society in general having acquired notorious reputation for bad manners and boorishness, its in the national interest that the tribe of image consultants multiplies.

India is the second fastest growing economy in the world and simultaneously hosts the youngest population globally. Its estimated that by the year 2020, the average median age of India will be 29. With this huge youth population competing fiercely in global markets, the demand for image consultants is all set to grow exponentially. Today, everybody is becoming aware of the importance of positive image projection. Image consulting is a multi-billion dollar business abroad and has washed up on Indian shores, even if belatedly. A hip and happening new career, professional image consultants can release the locked potential of people and change their lives,” says Rakesh Agarwal, the founder and chief consultant of First Impression Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based firm promoted last year.

According to Agarwal, image consulting is all about helping people build and enhance their image, particularly to make a good first impression. Image consultants provide guidance, coaching, mentoring and train people in augmenting their public and personal images to live happier, meaningful and successful lives. As style gurus and communication specialists, they recommend clients ward-robes, career choices and lifestyles to enable them to impress decision makers, the media and the rich and powerful.

Image consultants offer the kind of advice that can help clients land a job, secure a promotion, find a mate or just feel good about themselves. Our client list includes society women, job seekers, corporate executives, beauty pageant contestants, lawyers, TV personalities, politicians and also business corporations,” says Agarwal, an engineering and business management graduate of Boston University who following his return to India pioneered the car rentals business by launching Hertz Rent a Car (1985), the telephone information 24×7 service Ask Me (1989), a packaged sales training programme called WISE (Winning in Sales Every Time) in 1996 and served as managing director of the Frankfinn Institute of Airhostess Training (2004—09), before promoting First Impressions Pvt. Ltd in 2009.

Deriving the idea from image consultants abroad who are paid thousands of dollars per day to present training programmes, seminars, and workshops on topics related to image building for individuals and corporates, Agarwal believes there are huge business opportunities in this new emerging field.

First Impression has recently launched its Image Consulting Career Institute to offer a complete business incubation programme including training and mentoring for people who want to venture into this exciting business. We licence image consultants to deliver specialised packages introduced by us. We have the globally best curriculum for which we have a tie-up with the US-based Judith Rasband of the Conselle Institute of Image Management. Our programme includes three months of learning followed by another three months in which we help our students set up business with our support. We also intend training 500 master trainers within the next two years,” says Agarwal.

According to Agarwal, image consulting is a field that anyone with general savoir faire or experience in dressing, grooming and human behaviour can enter. Nevertheless a good education background with a university degree lends greater credibility. In particular individuals who have worked as cabin crew or hospitality professionals, counselors, trainers or with exposure to image-related professions have a definite advantage. At the same time trainers need intensive education and training in image management to transform into credible consultants. With a growing number of image consulting training centres, schools and curriculums mushrooming over the years together with online courses, a beginning is being made in India.

Therefore Agarwal readily recommends image consultancy as a career option to youth with broad education and savoir faire. If you decide to start your own image consulting business, you will enjoy the independence and flexibility of being your own boss, and simultaneously experience the thrill of helping others to gain style and confidence. Moreover as an image consultant you get to see the results of your work, and contribute to the greater good of the organisations your clients are associated with and of society,” he counsels.

The co-author of a forthcoming book titled Impress — The Science and Art of Making a Positive First Impression, scheduled for release in March, Agarwal believes that with awareness about personal and brand image rising, this is a great time for entry into this new age profession. Just as people have personal trainers for physical fitness, soon they will start retaining personal image consultants. Its a well-paid independent profession of the future,” he predicts. With Indian businessmen and society in general having acquired notorious reputation for bad manners and boorishness, its in the national interest that the tribe of image consultants multiplies

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