The fine art of business is a highly subjective environment. Judgements are made on the appearance and presentation of oneself as much as the content that is produced. More often than we’d all like, a great deal of business opportunities arise from personal relationships and the appearance of someone’s image more so than what they truly have to offer. The good news is that with a little preparation anyone can make themselves look highly professional. Here are 5 tips to come present yourself professionally.
1. Dress smartly
Contrary to most uniforms and workwear, the suit that is common place in many business related professions is used for appearance rather than function. Dressing smartly is something easily achievable by anyone but requires investment in the most precious resource we have, time. By taking time to tidy our appearance, iron and dry clean our clothes and present ourselves in a smart fashion we are inadvertently presenting ourselves as time efficient and productive. By budgeting time for preparation we subconsciously feel more confident in our daily activities and more productive. It is a misconception that dressing smartly costs a great deal of money. Looking smart isn’t a matter of financial investment rather it is an investment of your time, a far greater resource.
2. Take time to proof read your correspondence
In today’s digital age where we publish blogs, write messages and email job applications it is all too tempting to assume our devices built in spell checkers have corrected all of our errors and the document is ‘good enough’ to send. However, the truth, as we all know, is that more often than not many of our documents contain typos and errors and these really let down our professional appearance. Once again, having the organisation and discipline to invest a little time into proof-reading your work makes all the difference between looking professional and appearing down right sloppy.
3. Tweak your language
All languages have a variety of different words for different situations and the English language has the greatest variety in words and expressions of them all giving us plenty of room for both professional conduct or huge social faux pas. When speaking with individuals in a business setting. Be sure to address them correctly using their prefix and their surname. As a general rule, it is not suitable to use someone’s first name unless they either tell you that they wish you to, or, they sign off on a message or email with only their first name.
In emails, a trick that subconsciously influences our perception of the writer’s manner is the selection of address the sender greets the recipient with. Once again, for a professional setting you should use dear (prefix) (surname) e.g ‘Dear Mr Ross’ or ‘Dear Ms Shaw’. Do not use ‘Hi’ unless the individual used the word ‘Hi’ to address you in the email that you are replying to. If the recipient of the message you are writing has already used ‘Hi’ to address you then you have the implied permission to reciprocate. For signing off, it’s a good idea to end on a ‘Kind regards’ as this is an all round respectful, professional form of address.
The common point with these mannerisms is respect. By not assuming we can address the individual on terms reserved for friends and family we are showing our knowledge and use of professional business etiquette.
4. Be early
Once again, an investment in both time and respect. By being early for all interviews, meetings and appointments you are showing people that you value their most precious resource, their time and offer yours in a sign of powerful respect. Ever noticed that one person in your family or group of friends that makes a point of arriving late to make them seem more important? How does this make you feel about that person? Being early is the opposite of this approach and a true act of self discipline, respect and humility. Highly professional traits that we cant help but notice and appreciate.
5. Be healthy
Our token abstract tip. Being healthy itself has little direct relation to a professional image but it will naturally greatly improve the ease of performing the other 4 tips. By eating healthily, sleeping sufficiently and exercising regularly we will have more energy, discipline and focus and this will help us find that little extra time and sense of organisation to arrive early, check our correspondence, use the correct words and dress ourselves smartly. Before you know it with a few minor tweaks you will be highly professional at whatever you undertake.