It's a wake up call on how one communicates with others that they come into contact with and what lasting impression that leaves.

I am quite the business woman. I power dress for big meetings and always ensure that I am across any topic that may arise. I stand up for what I believe in and my experiences with marketing that lead to qualified opinions on various topics related to marketing are sometimes contrary to what other people think.

I walk into any business meeting with absolute confidence that I can 'nail it' and I rarely second guess my capabilities as a business person and as a marketer.

I also spend hours researching on topics that relate to business and marketing to ensure that I am always across the latest in marketing techniques and what makes a successful campaign successful.

When I meet people, I am shy, so I put on a different persona to what my friends may see me as, to ensure that I come across as an 'extravert' which is fairly critical in the business that I am. No small business will hire a marketing firm headed by a shy person, who would prefer to sit in front of their computer than meet new people. In marketing, personality does matter.

Last year, I skied quite a bit in Vail and my friend who is an extravert spoke to every single person on the chair lift. I kept my head down and tried not to engage because I was in my personal environment which means that I am who I am, a shyperson, and its a lot harder to pretend to be anything else when you are being yourself. I am sure he was dumbfounded by the fact that I contributed very little to conversations with people I did not know given that I am so confident in other situations.

Taking this all into account, I was once again reminded yesterday, that the way we present ourselves can often give people lasting impressions on who we are.

A client of mine, who has known me for 13 years, said that he thought I was a lesbian. Now, for the record, there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian and I would say at least 30% of my female friends have at least been with a girl or their partners were in a lesbian relationship before they decided that they wanted to get married and have children. So, I don't think sexuality matters in life or business - BUT, I am not a lesbian, never have been and never will be. I am very heterosexual. I have hung out with women that so happen to have that sexual preference, who are smart and successful, but friends are friends. Gender doesn't matter and neither does sexual preference.

After spending 10 minutes defending myself, he explained that when I was about 25 years old, and first introduced to him, he was told that my 'partner Natalie' would be accompanying me to a particular party. Apparently, everyone in that group thought the same. From that point on, I rarely took a man to business functions, because my long-term boyfriend thought they were boring and after we broke up when I was in my late 20's, I wouldn't take a man to a function because I wasn't sure that the relationship would last and I didn't want business associates thinking that I have lots of boyfriends. (Which I do not!). So, I would always bring along a female friend of mine.

The fact that I have never married or had children probably reinforced this thought.

Clearly, it has not affected the success of my marketing firm, but it is something to consider for all small business owners. Be careful what you communicate and how you communicate it because people can get the wrong impression. It may not be something as harmless as being thought of as a lesbian, so be careful. In any business situation, think about what you say and how you say it.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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