A Professional Image

Presenting a professional image is critical to your success and should be a serious consideration at all times while managing your executive career. A lack of professionalism could easily create a negative impression and eliminate you from consideration for a potential opportunity.

How easy is it to tarnish an image or a reputation? One negative is likely to have the the same impact as 1,000 positives! Polite behaviour is expected, rude behaviour will likely never be forgotten. A clean and neat appearance may not be given another thought but a stained and wrinkled suit will be burned into your memory. One inconsiderate or rude comment will have the potential to eliminate the memory of every thoughtful and caring comment that you have previously shared over months or even years.

Recently, a thread of emails among a professional networking organization for those seeking employment resulted in a number of emotional and unprofessional responses from some members. There is no doubt that some regretted their outbursts but trying to take something back once it has been posted online is as futile an endeavour as trying to change that of a first impression. Even those individuals with a long history of professionalism got caught up in the moment and although there were some heartfelt apologies offered, nothing could reverse the initial impression from one negative comment. Ending this thread of conversation, which was quickly tarnishing the professional images of many who became involved was in every-one’s best interest and all involved did, until 10 days later. One member decided to dig up the “dirt” selecting certain emails, singling out those individuals and then sent an email containing unsolicited, irrelevant advice to the entire organization! Why this individual decided to associate themselves with the original thread of inappropriate and unprofessional emails is quite puzzling. If there is any consolation for those who were singled out, it may very likely be that this last person to add their name to this thread of unprofessional conduct may overshadow the previous names. What were they thinking?

Key components influencing your professional image face to face are your appearance, confidence and assertiveness. Despite this, most senior executives will tentatively approach the registration table of a networking event with a less than confident demeanour and wait to be spoken to.  This is a professional networking meeting! Say hello, introduce yourself! If you are not sure you are in the right place, ASK! Don’t wait to see if someone familiar remembers your name, introduce yourself. This is your opportunity to stand out as a confident, assured professional! Even if you have met someone before, don’t expect them to remember your name. You risk leaving a  negative impression as most people are uncomfortable if they are unable to remember a name so don’t give them the chance to even think about it, introduce yourself. Say your name and then say it again. You are there to network. Do you want to be remembered? Do you want to leave a positive and professional impression?

Are you presenting a professional image, online and off? Everything you say and do will be judged by someone so think carefully. Your comments and your actions could influence that one person who is in a position to provide you with your next opportunity.

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