Whether you’re looking to create a money-making blog and become a full-time content creator, start a business, or work your way up the corporate ladder, if you mean to move through the world as a serious professional, then you need to do it right. This means starting to present yourself as a professional, as well. Below, we’re going to look at a range of the ways you can make sure that you’re putting the right energy out into the world, to help you get noticed and get taken seriously.
Dress for success
The first thing to start off with, and the easiest way to correct some of the mistakes that you might have been making so far, is to look at what you wear when you work or when you attend professional events. If you’re working from home and you’re not expecting to be seen by anyone in a professional capacity, then you don’t need to suit up. However, there are plenty of professional dress tips that you can follow if you’re making meetings or public appearances, or ever need to represent yourself as a professional or your brand. Be neat and organized, make sure your clothes are always clean, and try to match your dress to the formality of the situation, above anything else.
Mind your body language
You don’t necessarily have to master the art of making power poses and ensuring that your body language conveys a sense of dominance or any of the other tricks that business leaders often convince themselves is necessary. However, you do want to make sure that your body language conveys that you are present, you are respectful, and you are putting an effort into how you present yourself around other people. Posture is one of the most important parts of body language. In particular, you want to make sure that you don’t slouch or act too casually, which can communicate disinterest, and you want to avoid any body language that can come across as rude, such as tapping your hand or foot or crossing your legs.
Sometimes, unexpected issues can crop up, whether it’s traffic is worse than you expected, or you got lost on the way to a meeting place you haven’t been to before. However, lateness is almost always going to be taken as a sign of unprofessionalism or, at the very least, it can slightly skew the attitudes of the people that you are meeting with, meaning you have to work a little harder to prove to them that you are the right professional for the job. Do what you have to in order to become more punctual, whether it’s by using a scheduling app to manage all of your appointments, or taking time to get ready extra early.
Hand out a card
It’s an age-old tool that has a lot of purposes. You should take the time to design and print off a host of business cards if you own your business, and make sure that you invest in quality printing that is going to make sure that your cards do not look cheap. Business cards are great for networking, be it with potential business partners, brand decision-makers, customers, and more. Aside from giving them a way to keep in contact with you, it makes it clear that you’re there representing yourself in a professional sense, and actively working to build a professional network, which is the right first step if you’re looking to make some contacts.
Speak and project with confidence
Being a professional may mean speaking to an audience at times, especially if you’re trying to create content for widespread consumption or looking to speak at events in the future. To that end, you have to make sure that you’re able to speak clearly and precisely, to avoid being misunderstood or misinterpreted. Working on your annunciation by recording yourself and listening back can help you correct the little issues you might find in your own voice. There are also public speaking groups where you can practice with others to make sure that you’re able to get up, be comfortable, and confidently communicate what it is that you have to say.
Be organised in your approach
If you are making a pitch, trying to close a sale, or otherwise you are trying to see a positive outcome to a meeting, then it always makes sense to have a game plan. Take the time to practice what you’re going to say, ahead of time, the points that you are going to make, and the evidence or examples you have to outline any points that are crucial to your aims. If you need any other materials to present to others, then make sure that you have them ready and good to go. Keeping your work life as organised as possible is going to make it easy for you to be able to demonstrate your professionalism when you’re working closely with another person.
Listen as much as you speak
Working on your communication skills is always good, but it’s just as good an idea to be able to listen and to truly hear what people are saying, to be able to understand the motivation and wants, as well as the perspective of the speaker. To that end, active listening courses can be a huge help. As the name implies, this helps you be more plugged in when you’re speaking to others, making sure that you are truly taking in and engaging with what they’re saying. Young professionals can often get a little over-excited about what they’re trying to talk about, be it their career, their ongoing projects, the pitches they’re making and so on. You have to make sure that you’re not talking over people or barreling past their own points.
Bring a positive attitude
Unprofessional behaviour doesn’t just account for how you dress, sit, and speak, it also comes out in the attitude that you give off, as well. Take a look at the signs that you have a negative attitude, and think of how many of them you might have manifested to others around you, recently. People want to believe that those they work with are bringing positive energy and effort to the things that they do, that they are worth supporting, and that working with them is going to be mutually beneficial. It can be hard to win this confidence and excitement from other people if you’re giving off a negative attitude, so try to reshape your mindset, see the positive outcomes, and be hopeful about your efforts.
Ensure that you’re able to show your competence
At the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. Your professional facade, no matter how real or manufactured, is going to be backed up by your competence. When you have the opportunity, take the time to demonstrate your expertise, competence, and reliability with the skills that you have. If you’re working collaboratively with others, try to make sure that you get your parts done quickly and correctly, so that they’re not working on you. Make efforts to be more productive and to keep working on your skills, so that this competence is able to keep on shining in different areas of your work, as well.
Being a professional doesn’t mean that you have to be serious and stuffy all of the time. It does, however, mean that you have to work to build the trust and prestige that you want to be associated with.