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March 15, 2015

Project a Professional Image

I’m not an image consultant, but I do understand the power of image for career success. The adage “Perception is reality” is never truer than in business. We are judged by how others perceive us. If your manager thinks you are sloppy because you have a messy office, he or she may judge you to be less professional than your peers. This can affect your career. So, how can you manage other’s perceptions in a way that demonstrates your professionalism? Here are five tools you can use.

  1. Be organized and neat. This means you have to get rid of the piles of papers in your office and take charge of your electronic documents and e-mail. Take a few minutes every day to clear up the mess, set up a system for finding filed documents, and clear up your work area before leaving every night. Check out my GO System program.
  2. Be punctual. Plan your schedule to allow for travel time to and from meetings to ensure you always arrive on time or a few minutes early. If you get to the meeting location ahead of time, you can organize your place at the conference table, review your notes, or network with other attendees. See my blog post Networking for Results.
  3. Be accurate. Take steps to ensure written documents are correct by spell checking, grammar checking, and proofreading everything before hitting send. Double-check numbers, people’s names, and hyperlinks.
  4. Be accountable. Everyone makes mistakes; a professional apologizes and takes corrective action. When you are accountable, people know they can rely on you to do what you say you will do and accept responsibility for making things right. See my blog post Be Accountable Even If You Aren’t Responsible.
  5. Be articulate. To succeed in business, you have to be a good communicator who is comfortable speaking one-on-one and in front of groups. Many people are terrified of speaking in public, but this fear can cripple your career. Start small by speaking up at team meetings, then graduate to speaking in larger groups. Organizations such as Toastmasters can help you overcome speaking jitters and prepare talks that capture people’s attention.

Perception is reality, and you want to ensure you are communicating professionalism to everyone you work with and meet.

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