How To Develop A Professional Image

In this day of technology and the dreaded recordings, insuring that you maintain a professional image is crucial to business success.

How you come across on the phone, through your website, on a plane or at a networking event directly impacts how others (read “potential clients”) perceive you and your business. Especially if you ARE your business.

Here are a few tips for maintaining a professional image in all that you do:

1. Dress for success and act the part.

If you need to attend an event or may otherwise come into contact with potential clients, you should dress for success. This does not mean you need to wear a suit, but you should be well-groomed and your clothes should fit you properly. I try to dress in the Corporate equivalent of “business casual” when going out. This insures that I am *ready* to meet with someone should the occasion arise — even on a plane. :-)

On a flight to Los Angeles last year, I was jotting down some thoughts to clients when the gentleman sitting next to me complimented me on my diligence and said that my boss must be pleased with my dedication. I thanked him and said I was. We proceeded to have a great discussion and he has since referred many leads to me.

2. Make the telephone work for you.

Whenever possible, answer your phone during business hours. It is so rare these days to get a “live voice” that your caller will be immediately pleased.

You should also sit upright or walk around while on the phone in order to inject energy into your voice. Before every conference call, I do a few jumping jacks and toe touches to get the blood flowing again; I am much peppier as a result.

3. Underpromise and overdeliver — always.

There are multitudes of companies out there and it’s pretty easy for clients to change who they do business with. In maintaining a professional image, you want to do what you say, when you say it (or earlier!).

The old saying of “underpromise and overdeliver” has never been more true than it is today. If you can give added-value to your clients, do it. This holds true for any committees you are part of, nonprofit groups you join — in all situations, you want to be known as someone who always delivers.

4. Read and reread

I read and then reread everything I send out. Whether a quick email or a longer note, you want to be professional in your communications. You want your clients/potential clients to focus on your message, not on your misspelled words or poor grammar. It *really* does make a difference.

Always remember, the first impression is often a lasting impression and that people do business with people — not with faceless entities. When people think of you/your business, you want it to be in a complimentary manner.

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