Let’s talk about sex and power, shall we?!
To be clear, we’re not talking about letting down your boundaries or tossing out your self respect. But I do believe you can harness the power of your sexuality to get ahead in your career.
Because, the truth is, some women have bodies that just bring the sex – and can’t be contained by clothing.
If you’re hourglass, curvy, or have an ample rack, I’m talking to you. Even if you don’t, I’m still talking to you.
But see, up to this point, we’ve been told that our sexuality – women’s sexuality – is totally inappropriate for professional situations.
I call Bullshit.
There’s no legitimate reason for you to dress to hide your sexuality – especially if it’s a dominant trait in your style (intentionally or not). Because, trust me on this, no one over on the boys’ team is doing that.
In fact, men use their sexuality to get ahead all. the. time.
Why shouldn’t you?
Allow me to illustrate …
(Stick with me, there’s a Don Draper reference in here you’ll like.)
Once upon a time, I worked in commercial design and had the pleasure of overseeing the purchase of millions of dollars worth of architectural products each year.
On one particular project, we were set to buy something we’d never bought before – and we needed a lot of it.
It was the fanciest of all corporate office products – modular wall systems. These were an architect’s geeky wet dream because, supposedly, you could tear them down and just rebuild them in another configuration somewhere else at another time (allegedly).
And they were framed with exposed extruded aluminum, the sexiest wall you’ve ever seen.
Sounds expensive, right? It was.
So, here I was, the primary advisor on who we should hire for this product. And we had to decide, between 3 different reps, who would get the project.
Would it be:
Sales Rep A – our usual rep who sold us all of our furniture systems for this client, who could give us a nice discount because we were repeat customers?
Sales Rep B – an eager rep, a woman, from a company we’d never bought from, who was anxious to make a deal?
Or, Sales Rep C – the Don Draper look-alike whose product was the most expensive option?
Yes, but how were they dresssed?!
I thought you’d never ask. This is key …
Sales Rep A usually had his jacket off and shirt sleeves rolled up, Obama style. Very polite and approachable.
Sales Rep B wore pants suits. They were always boxy, never fit her very well, and were mostly beige – not the best choice for her, considering her skin and hair were also beige.
Sales Rep C wore – what else – The Draper Special. Full suit: pressed jacket and pants, crisp shirt, snazzy tie and gleaming shoes.
It was apparent to anyone with eyes that our Don Draper look-alike knew something about dressing to impress. He clearly enjoyed it without looking overly-styled.
So, how does sex factor into this?
He played up his masculine sexuality with perfectly fitted blue and gray suits, a great smile, a firm handshake, and a warm, balanced confidence.
And that confidence resulted in about a quarter million in sales for him from our client.
Would this have worked as well if Don Draper Junior had phoned it in with an off-the-rack suit?
Please. He was sexy because of how a perfectly fitted suit puts all the emphasis on a man’s “strongest” features – the shoulders, neck, and jaw.
I should stress that he was perfectly professional at all times, but you had better believe that he used sex to influence sales decisions. In fact, I’m confident his “unique brand of presence” was his bread and butter tactic. Add in a few fancy lunches where he could exercise some dapper charm, and he had our account on lock-down.
But, did he ever worry that his effortless brand of masculine sexuality might bother someone or somehow be inappropriate?
Lord, no. In fact, let’s just assume the thought never crossed his mind.
I hope you can see, now, how a tactic like this easily translates for women.
You can play up your own feminine sexuality with perfectly fitted clothing. And, if that clothing happens to accentuate your curvy shape or, heaven forbid, show the slightest bit of cleave, then so what?
That’s your body, which might be inherently sexual – clothed or not. There’s absolutely nothing to hide or be ashamed of here. And, if simply allowing yourself to be appealing in a sexual way helps you, how is that wrong?!
If you’re flirtatious by nature (guilty!) then flirt! I do this all the time when I network with my target clients – women.
Buy someone a drink, tease them innocently, compliment them. Focus your unique brand of charm on who matters, and who can help you get ahead.
(By the way, this tactic of using sexual appeal works across genders and sexual preference. We’re just as likely to find both a man and a woman appealing, regardless of our own sexual preference.
ETA: As a matter of fact, if Sales Rep B had put as much care into her appearance as “Don Draper,” her ability to woo would have been greater and we would probably be talking about her instead. I would ALWAYS rather give my business to a woman.)
The thing about using sex to get ahead is that you can use as little or as much as you like.
Okay, true, there is still a lot of noise in the way of you using your own sexuality – like workplace politics or gender double-standards. But if sexuality is just part of your style, there’s nothing wrong with it and you don’t need to hide it anymore.
And, if you’ve already caught on to this, I’m not just encouraging you to use your sexuality. It’s also permission, in general, to do things your way.
If it’s a little off the beaten path, so be it.