MEET The Image Connection Group: The Image Connection Group (http://www.imageconnectiongroup.com) is a personal brand / professional brand firm. At the helm of the firm are three unstoppable innovators: LaShanda Millner-Murphy, Monique Stubbs-Hall and Melissa Jo Baker. Our desire is to define the new view of the professional. We help professionals make the connection between mindset, talent and image in order to increase marketability. Work that we do helps professionals get noticed. Clients served include State Farm, Hanes, Communities in Schools, Hilton and the Social Security Administration.
WMI: What is personal brand?
ICG: It’s what you are communicating to others through verbal, non-verbal and physical means. It’s your live logo.
WMI: When and why did you launch Image Connection Group?
ICG: We launched ICG in January 2016 with our book Professionable: The Art of Being a Fashionable Professional.
WMI: What was your initial vision for Image Connection Group?
ICG: Our initial vision was to provide professionals with a unique concept: the ability to receive a combination of Personal Professional Development, Styling Solutions and Beauty/Grooming Answers all under one roof.
WMI: Tell us about the services that you offer and who your services are geared toward.
ICG: We offer a customizable one on one coaching package. It’s a package that allows clients to coach with each of us individually, ensuring that we access the areas in which clients need greater assistance. We then provide a la carte coaching in more intensive sessions to help refine our clients’ personal brand presentation.
Our target market includes entrepreneurs who are coming out of corporate environments, leaders who need to establish a style compatible with the type of business they are establishing. We also serve millennials who are entering the job market and need to brush up on their skills and image. Generation Xers who have been working in corporate for several years, people who realize that they need to pay more attention to their image and personal brand to stay competitive in the marketplace, are also members of our target audience.
The Beginnings of Image Connection Group
WMI: How did you all meet?
ICG: We met at a women’s networking luncheon in Charlotte, each of us having our own individual businesses.
WMI: Share the talents, passions and experience that you each bring to Image Connection Group.
ICG: LaShanda began her fashion career in 1984 as owner of a specialty boutique. She was a producer of fashion runways and a personal stylist for executives and First Ladies in North Carolina and Virginia. LaShanda has mastered skills that help her clients to be creative and have versatility in their professional wardrobes that result in a new “style image.” LaShanda has been sought out by women and men nationally through her personal brand as Fashion Image Coach and Clothier Designer, a creative who has styled celebrities, entertainers, sports figures, professional models, pageant queens, entrepreneurs and more. She thrives on the challenges of helping people discover their lifestyle and express their individuality through their outside appearances. She believes that it is one of our greatest powers in life and that everyone should seek to embrace it. Through years of experience engaging, inspiring and creating styles for clients, she knows that “every size, shape and skin tone has a clothing compliment. When her clients add their personality to that, suddenly they express power and confidence they didn’t even know they had.”
After working for 32 years in Los Angeles as an executive and beauty industry leader for brands like Sephora and Urban Decay, Melissa moved to Charlotte for family. She knew that she wanted to use her beauty knowledge to serve women in a better way. She’s always had a passion for fashion and has been known to be the one on trend in her circles. She brings her beauty and style expertise to the group from experience and intuition.
Monique has an extensive background in sales management in the cosmetic and hospitality industries, and is also an accomplished public speaker with over 30 years experience collectively working for Fortune 500 companies. Her years of experience in both cosmetic and hospitality sales and customer service affords her both the skill set and proven techniques for the success that she enjoys teaching and coaching to enrich individuals and business leaders who are struggling in these areas.
Helping Top Firms Strengthen Personal Brand
WMI: You have worked with top companies like State Farm, Hilton, Hanes, eWomen Network and Communities in Schools. Please share three to four steps that Write Money Incorporated readers can take to introduce themselves to major firms and land desirable partnerships with those firms?
ICG: Research the specific contact in the department that directly seeks out companies that offer your type of service or product. This will save you time.
- Be professionally persistent. Have good follow up and don’t just take the “no” as the answer; attempt to find out why the answer is “no”. The “no” may be just not at this time and, if so, find out when would be an appropriate time to follow up.
- Make every effort to have a face to face meeting with the decision maker. We have found that phone and email conversations do not always convey the true conviction of your service or product as well as a face to face interaction.
WMI: Tell us about the inspiration behind the guidebook Professionable.
ICG: We were clear that we wanted this to be a fun read. Nothing overwhelming. Women have enough of that in life. Our guidebook offers bite size nuggets that the reader could immediately understand and implement.
WMI: Why is a fashionable professionable mindset and appearance important?
ICG: Mindset is important to create a desired shift. If someone doesn’t believe that she has a need to improve her appearance, we won’t be able to move the needle in those areas. It’s a moot point.
Appearance is important because it is a form of communication. And it can get us the job, the raise, the client or the sale. Or the complete opposite.
Marketing Success and Personal Brand Tips
WMI: Social media networks, press releases, interviews, etc. provide a myriad of marketing opportunities. Share three to four marketing strategies/action steps that you take to gain exposure for Image Connection Group.
ICG: Conducting Book Signing Events/Tours – These bring exposure to the material in the book and allow us to bring professionals together in smaller group settings to give them tips that show the value and expertise in our respective areas. This also allows professionals to express the areas in which they feel they need additional coaching to improve their personal brand.
- Mini Work Shop Series – We have successfully held mini workshop series to cover specific areas that will enhance professionals’ marketability. After attending the workshops, clients realize why engaging with us is beneficial to their professional success.
- Social Media Campaigns – Social media campaigns, including Facebook ads, have definitely been beneficial in raising awareness of our brand and keeping the public informed about our upcoming events.
- Television Coverage –Wherever possible, we look for opportunities to gain media exposure. Media exposure helps to build credibility in the eyes of the public. Because television is visual and also because we discuss image and style, we have found television coverage to be very effective for our brand.
WMI: To keep your business going, you have to generate cash inflow. Tell us about two to three effective cash inflow strategies that you’ve found effective.
ICG: IPA-Income Producing Activities is one of the pillars to keep your eye on. We keep book signings in our ‘pipeline’ as a core activity, large and small, at a variety of different places, to reach new people and create collaborations. We also do workshops in Charlotte and other parts of North Carolina.
WMI: What’s next for Monique, LaShanda, Melissa and Image Connection Group? Where do you see yourselves and Image Connection Group three to five years from now?
ICG: We see ourselves as a national personal brand firm with trainers (or as we refer to them “Professionables”) that we have groomed to present our style of coaching one on one and in larger forums such as stage presence at women conferences and tradeshows.
Get Your Copy of Love Pour Over Me at https://www.ebookit.com/books/0000001582/Love-Pour-Over-Me.html