Many of us have aspirations to excel professionally. Maybe you want to work your way up at a company or maybe you want to start a company of your own. When it comes to the business world and your career, maintaining a professional presence is incredibly important. As you’re reading through these tips you may be saying to yourself “I’ve heard these before and I already do these things.” Once these thoughts come to mind stop and challenge yourself. Do you really? It is very important to be aware of how you are presenting yourself on a consistent basis. The key word here is consistent. Can you control your professional presence even when a situation arises that frustrates you? How do others describe you? How do you continue to improve your communication skills? Building your professional “brand” doesn’t happen overnight, but it starts to take shape early in your career by how reliable you are and by how–you guessed it–consistent you are in everyday situations.
Please take some time to read over the tips below on how you can create a professional presence. Challenge yourself to really observe what signals you are sending out and what type of personal brand you are building.
- 1. Be aware of your body language and voice tone. Did you know that a first impression is made within 3 seconds of meeting someone? Don’t you want to make sure that impression is a good one? It’s important to be very self-aware and to pay attention to what signals you may be giving off without realizing it. Your body language accounts for 55% of a first impression and your voice tone accounts for 38%! While you may be saying the right words, if your body language and voice tone are not positive, your message may be taken the wrong way by others. Negative signals include no or little facial expression, crossed arms and a tilted head with a monotone voice. Be sure to make great eye contact, maintain good posture, smile, have energy and be attentive.
- 2. Look appropriate for the occasion. We all know that if we look good, we feel good. What you’re wearing can have a direct impact on how confident you seem. Pay close attention to the outfits that get you the most compliments from your co-workers. What is it about those outfits? The color, style or accessories? Pull out old photos of yourself that you really like and study them. What is it about you in that photo that you like so much? Find out what it is and use it to your advantage every day! It’s important to, identify your true style and to dress professionally when you’re in a professional setting. You don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed or like you’re ready for a night on the town. Likewise, making sure your hair, makeup and nails are well maintained will help you project the professional presence you’re looking for. (If you need any help in that department, the talented professionals in my company would be thrilled to help!) Look the part and you’ll be respected professionally.
- 3. Do your research and practice. It’s important that you don’t walk blindly into an interview or important business meeting. Research the company or topic that you are dealing with and show up prepared. Being properly equipped shows that you care and are ready to take on important tasks! Practice your first impression and how to introduce yourself. Do you have your “elevator speech,” a 30-second summary used to quickly and simply define who you are, what you do and what your interests are? Are you able to communicate it at a networking event? You can never practice too much. I hear from people that it looks like it comes so natural when I speak in front of others. Well, the truth is- I practice A LOT. I go over what I’m going to say many times before I have to speak in public. No one wants to be ill-prepared and the only way to assure this is by practicing!
Keep these pointers in mind and you’ll be well on your way to achieving the professional presence you need to succeed. Once you have the basics down, you’ll be surprised at how naturally this will come to you. Even if you believe you already have the fundamentals nailed, it never hurts to reexamine your body language and to make sure you are coming off as a friendly and personable individual. There is always room for improvement in these areas and I challenge you to constantly find the ways in which you can better your professional presence. Work hard at this and you’ll be moving up that corporate ladder or starting your own company in no time!