A Complete Package: How to Create and Maintain a Professional Image
Being thought of as a professional in your field takes a lot more than doing your work well. Even if you are good at what you do, you may find it difficult to reach the type of success you strive for unless you are also considered to be professional by others.
There are many different factors that go into creating a professional and well-respected image. While each individual factor can help increase your success, together these elements can create a professional and sought-after image your clients and potential clients will appreciate.
Quality of Work
It’s obvious that in order to be considered a professional by clients and peers, you need to work hard and be good at what you do. I consider this to be the foundation for your entire image.
Responsiveness and Customer Service
The level of importance you place on your clients is an important element of creating a professional persona. Some facets of responsiveness and customer service may include:
- Being willing to go the extra mile to make your clients happy
- Responding to e-mail and phone messages promptly
- Following up with clients after a project to ask for their feedback
- Being willing to make recommendations and offer solutions to problems
Holding yourself accountable can be challenging at times, but if you do it successfully, you will gain the respect of others. This means that although you should take credit and celebrate successes, you also need to face your role in any failures and shortcomings, without excuses.
Essentially, your presentation is responsible for making a solid first impression and getting potential clients moved to the next level. This can be your web site, marketing materials, proposals and project plans, portfolio, voicemail message, e-mail signature, your look and voice when you meet with clients, and any element that puts you in front of your prospects.
Communication and Listening Ability
The way you communicate, verbally and in written form, tells a lot about who you are and how you work. Being clear, concise, respectful and responsive is vital for success. And don’t forget about the importance of listening to your clients and taking the time to hear and understand what they are saying.
Social Networking Personas
While your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, on your blog and other networking sites also play a role in your overall presentation, they deserve individual attention. What you say in those forums may feel informal and relaxed, but keep in mind that these outlets can work against you if you’re not being consistently professional and genuine.
Although sometimes we’d all like to ignore what others think of us, your reputation can go a long way in supporting (or hurting) your professional image. That’s why it’s so important to treat others with respect and honesty, even if you would never consider working or collaborating with them.
These are the factors that I focus on as part of my professional image, and I try to keep each one consistent with the others.
What elements would you add to this list that help you present yourself as a professional?
Image credit: Marcelo Guerrero