How to Appear Rich (Without Being Rich)

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Many of the self-made millionaires in my study made a habit of building relationships with other rich, successful people. In fact, 89% of the self-made’s in my study said they forged this habit prior to becoming wealthy.

Successful people have the ability to help you in so many ways by:

  • Mentoring you
  • Opening up doors that would otherwise be closed
  • Funding your dream
  • Connecting you with other influencers
  • Sharing their wisdom and advice
  • Providing you with critical feedback

But the reality is that rich people are not going to be interested in building a relationship with someone who doesn’t look the part. If you want to become part of the inner circle of the wealthy, you must create the perception that you are someone they would build a relationship with. Here are some tips on exactly how to do that:

Dress the Part

You don’t need to be rich to buy rich clothes. Eight percent of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits study bought their clothes at goodwill stores. They always bought good quality clothes and then had them tailored, saving them hundreds of dollars for each outfit.

Tips on Dressing the Part:

  • Work and Job Interviews – Some professions have special purpose clothing like construction, roadwork, electricians etc. If you work in an office, dress like your boss or your boss’s boss. In some offices its business casual, in others it’s a suit and tie for men. For woman its slacks, or skirts with open collars, heels or no heels are ok.
  • Weddings, Wakes, Funerals –  In most cases this will be suit and tie for men. For women it’s the same as work clothes but many women like to wear more formal gowns or a more stylish cocktail dress, usually worn with heels. Some cultures have special dress codes you need to be aware of.
  • Formals – Usually formals are black tie optional, black tie or white tie for men. Optional usually means a dark suit, tie or black bow tie, dark shoes. Black tie means black tuxedo, dark shoes, white tie means black tailcoat, white wing-collar shirt, white bow tie, black shoes for men. For women it’s a long formal gown or short cocktail dress or dressy long skirt and top, usually worn with heels. White ties are very rare.

Drive the Part

If you pull up to a meeting with a rich person in a beat-up jalopy of a car, it will create a bad impression. So, what can you do? Fifty-five percent of the self-made millionaires in my study purchased used, good quality cars. Typically, these were cars that were coming off a three year lease and whose value had depreciated significantly, making the purchase affordable.

Look the Part

What does looking the part mean? Besides the clothing it includes a well-groomed haircut, white teeth, good posture, strong handshake and an enthusiastic smile. These things cost very little but pay huge dividends.

Act the Part

Do you have good etiquette? Are you a positive, upbeat person? Do you look people in the eye while they are talking to you? In conversations, do you focus on the other person – do you ask them questions about their life?

You will find rich, successful people at networking events, charitable events, trade group events, golf outings, on the tennis court, boating, at conferences, on the board of directors at local non-profits, at wakes, funerals, at weddings, on vacation, in pubs and at restaurants. Acting the part is a habit you must forge. It must become part of your everyday behavior because you never know when you will run into one of the rich and successful. If you assume everyone you meet is successful, then you will make an effort to act the part every day.

Tips on How to Act the Part:

#1 Good Communication

  •   Look everyone in the eye for no more than 5 seconds at a time, then divert your glance for another 5 seconds. Practice will turn this into a habit.
  • Not every thought that comes into your head should come out of your mouth. Vet your thoughts. Speaking your mind does not mean sharing every thought. Some thoughts are not appropriate and could cause irreparable damage to your relationships.
  • Never criticize, condemn or complain about anyone to another relationship. It’s a giant red flag. People will assume that you are bad mouthing them and will try to stay away from forming any strong relationships with you.
  • Never gossip. Most gossip is bad, negative and damages relationships.
  • Gather as much information about your relationships as you can. At a minimum gather the following information: birthdays, hobbies, interests, schools attended, where they grew up, current family background (married? kids?), where they live, dreams or goals they are pursuing.
  • Make Hello Calls, Happy Birthday Calls and Life Event Calls.

#2 Good Eating Habits:

  • As soon as you sit in your chair take the napkin off the table and drape it over your lap.
  • Never begin eating until everyone has their meal.
  • Never chew with your mouth opened.
  • Never talk while you’re chewing your food.
  • Never dip any food you’re eating into a sauce everyone is using.
  • Don’t wolf down your food. Eat at the same pace as everyone else at the table.
  • Never hold a spoon, fork or knife with your fist.
  • Outside fork is for salads, inside fork for the meal.
  • Never make gestures while your utensils are in your hands.
  • Never reach for anything like salt and pepper. Always ask someone to pass things like that.
  • Don’t slouch at the table. Sit straight up.
  • After the meal, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom and make sure you don’t have any food in your teeth. Carry a toothpick or something similar in your wallet or purse wherever you go.

#3 Introduce Yourself Properly at Events:

  1. Smile
  2. Firm Handshake
  3. Make Eye Contact
  4. In one sentence explain who you are, why you’re there and who you know at the event
  5. Ask Questions About the Person You are Introducing Yourself to. See list of questions to ask on my website

#4 Good Manners:

  • Yes
  • Please
  • Thank you
  • Excuse me when interrupting or entering a conversation
  • Don’t interrupt someone while they are talking
  • Don’t roll your eyes when someone says something you disagree with
  • Don’t look away when someone is talking to you
  • Never check your cell phone when talking to someone
  • Stay positive and keep criticisms and negative comments to yourself
  • Compliment, compliment, compliment
  • Thank anyone hosting an event, dinner etc.
  • Never curse or use inappropriate language during social events
  • Never be rude


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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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