Coming into the corporate world is similar to dating. When you meet someone for a first date you dress your best, have a few interesting facts in your head ready to share and clean out your car. Soon you start dating exclusively, you go out on dates, surprise each other, and enjoy getting dressed up to meet with friends. One day, you start wearing pajamas around each other after not showering for a few days, leave your house a mess, and while it’s okay to have let your guard down, you definitely aren’t leading with your best self at this point. You let yourself go.
When you want a position in a new office, you dress your best, have a few interesting experiences ready to discuss, and bring with you a nice printed copy of your resume and application. Soon you get offered the position, you come in with fresh ideas, have an organized work space and even wear new clothes. Things get settled and your desk becomes a bit messy, you don’t take as long to get ready, and some days you just come in, get your work done and leave. You let yourself go.
The rules of perception in dating and the workplace are very similar. So, keep in mind how you would want to present yourself on a first date when thinking about how to consistently stand out and impress in the workplace. How do we keep from being complacent and continue to be someone our employers and clients trust?
Putting your best foot forward
Working from home or in a relaxed office can make us forget how important our outward presentation can be. Make sure from the outside that others see someone professional.
- Your Office Space – Whether people drop in or you have meetings in your office make sure the space is clean and organized. Not only will this make clients and potential clients more comfortable but it gives them the impression that you have your office in order.
- Your Appearance – The day to day grind can make us forget the importance of wearing a freshly ironed shirt and nicely combed hair. Practice dressing everyday as if you run into your top client during lunch or the CEO in the hallway. When someone is well groomed others immediately perceive them as more responsible and detailed than someone who is a bit disheveled.
- Communication – Our tone can be picked up visually by our body language, noticed over the phone, and even recognized in an email. It is critical to clearly communicate with others in and out of the office. Be friendly, yet professional. A personal note included in an email such as ‘I hope you had a nice vacation’ or ‘It was so nice running into you’ can go a long way. In a difficult correspondence, be thoughtful in your response.
- Keep Things Fresh – Never settle for the mundane. Speak up with new ideas in meetings. Keep changing things that don’t work. Experiment with new options. Don’t be afraid to take a risk.
Today our online presence is extremely important. When potential customers search for us on the internet we need to be aware of the perception we are creating. Part of presenting yourself in the best light is protecting the identity of your company by using your accounts in a safe way that remains credible.
There is a HUGE impact on how people perceive you according to your social media accounts. What you share, like, retweet, or post can alter an outsiders perspective in an instant.
- Be Diplomatic – If your personal accounts are viewable to clients and customers, shy away from posting about political or religious views and ‘hot button’ subjects. This could weed out potential business for those with opposite values.
- Bragging vs. Confident – Feel free to share your successes! Just practice balancing between being proud of your work and being too showy. You don’t want to make your customers think you’re making too much profit from them. When someone is ‘braggy’ people are generally put off.
- Party Persona can be frowned upon – Yes, everyone can appreciate you having a good time, but make sure every picture you share isn’t riddled with drinking or partying too hard. Save the keg stand photos for your buddies.
- Be Yourself – Your professional accounts don’t have to be all business. People like getting to see glimpses of others just being themselves, enjoying what they love, and sharing happy moments.
Take a step back this month and do a little research on yourself, see what comes up. Make sure your social media accounts and outward appearance are defining your company and you in the way that would make you proud. Each day is an opportunity to impress someone, so don’t let yourself go.