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But it’s also important to keep the details in mind that can tip the balance from “CEO” to “out you go.” Here are five details that are worth your time:
1. Be a corporate chameleon
Just because you’re going to a job interview or going to meet with a client doesn’t mean you need to wear your seven-piece suit. Think about the situation – who will be there? How do they usually dress? Where are we meeting?
If you show up for lunch with a client and you’re overdressed, that person might feel intimidated or overpowered by you. If you dress at the same level as those around you, everyone will feel more comfortable communicating and doing business.
However, in some cases, it makes sense to wear an outfit to get attention – remember Pip from “The Voice?” He wore a bow tie during his performances, which helped him stand out from the crowd.
Of course, you probably shouldn’t try it at the next board meeting, but having a unique style could also help you build your professional brand – you definitely won’t blend in with the walls.
2. B carefful w/ email! (LOL)
In many cases, email is the first way that a person will interact with you, and it’s all too easy to blow it if you get too casual with your communication.
It’s important to include your professional signature in your email – it can piss people off if they’re trying to find your contact information to set up a call with you and they can only find your email address. Make it easy for them!
Once you’ve been communicating for a while, you can start to match the person’s style if s/he is less formal than you (re: chameleon). You’ll still want to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes, and most importantly, make sure you’re sending it to the right people. When I started my first job, I accidentally copied a co-worker on an email that mentioned I was tired of hearing her talk about sex all day at work. Luckily, I was able to get someone to delete the email before she read it to avoid a pretty uncomfortable situation.
3. Watch the clock
This one is simple: show up on time!
A recent CareerBuilder survey shows more than a quarter of employees show up late to work at least once a month. Coincidentally, more than a quarter of employers have fired people for showing up late to work.
If you want to have a successful professional brand, you need to build respect. It’s easy to lose respect if people think you value your own time more than theirs.
Be prompt, and avoid distractions like checking your cell phone if you’re in a meeting with someone. People love to know that you consider their time important.
4. Communicate with confidence
Confidence is key when it comes to building your professional brand. When filler words (like “ah” and “like”) start to take up space in your sentences, it distracts people from what you’re really trying to say and shows a lack of confidence.
So, like, try and, uh, keep those pesky nonsense words, like, out of your vocabulary. It looks weird when they’re typed out in a sentence, but it can bother employers and co-workers even more if you’re always saying them out loud.
5. Make yourself comfortable
If you’re comfortable and not stressed when you’re working, you’ll be a better and more confident contributor.
So make changes at work that will make it easier for you to be a rock star. For example, as much as my employees make fun of me for having a Bluetooth earpiece in the office, I still use it for calls. I feel more comfortable and I can talk with my hands, so I sound more confident over the phone.
You don’t need to make drastic changes to increase your confidence at the office, either – which is good, because your boss will probably deny your request to turn the conference room into a swimming pool. Whether it’s wearing comfortable clothes, having a quiet atmosphere, or eating lunch a little early, small changes can make a big difference in your confidence, and in turn, your professional brand.
Having a successful professional brand really does come down to the details. Keep an eye out for these pesky annoyances, and it’s unlikely they’ll come back to bite you. People will love feeling like you value their time – and they’ll value yours in return.