Projecting a Professional Persona

Recently through my one of networks, I was introduced to a person who required some assistance with his resume and cover letter. I was quite happy to provide this person with some practical advice and scheduled to meet him at a local café. It wasn’t long after we had finished the introductions that I wondered whether it was indeed his marketing documentation that was letting him down or his overall mannerisms, professionalism and communication abilities (or lack of).

After initial introductions and the ensuing handshake he commented “I’m really sorry to take up your valuable time. I know you must think I’m a nuisance, and I don’t mean to be such a bother.” Even his body language indicated a serious lack of self confidence, which really saddened me. I could just imagine him repeating this comment at a networking meeting or worse yet, at an interview.

Whether you are representing yourself at a network meeting, an interview or even just having a coffee with a network contact – it is vital to portray a professional and successful image.

Unfortunately this person did not realise that the message he was conveying, could be viewed as negative or weak by some people, and by projecting anything less than his absolute best could harm his reputation.

To avoid becoming a casualty of communication catastrophe and undermining yourself and your abilities try some of the tips provided below:

** Avoid using weak and ineffective communication when promoting your ideas such as “You probably won’t like this idea but how about…” or “I’m probably way off track but …” Instead use strong communication when presenting your ideas; if you don’t believe in what you are saying or what you stand for, how can you expect others to?

** Emulate the physical ‘presence’ and mannerisms of self-assured and confident people. Stand tall with your head held high. Use a firm (although not hand crushing) handshake, smile, and remember to speak clearly and maintain eye contact with the person to whom you are communicating with.

** Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake, but rather view it as an opportunity for continued learning and personal development. Everyone makes mistakes, but it is in the way you learn from these and pick yourself up that makes all the difference. One of my favourite quotations is ‘There is no failure, only feedback.’ So, if a situation did not deliver the outcome as planned, review it and understand how you can improve on it, so that next time you are in a similar situation you can achieve a better result.

** Learn to accept congratulatory praise and compliments and don’t lessen the impact of your achievements by saying “Oh it was nothing really.” Be proud of what you have accomplished! Instead say ‘Thank you!’ to demonstrate your gratitude for being acknowledged.

** Avoid using negative comments about yourself or your skills as this not only projects a poor self-image, but does little to enhance your self-esteem. Stop feeding your negative self-image by diminishing your skills and abilities, but rather be proud of who you are and what you have to offer.

** Don’t portray or describe yourself as a victim when faced with a problem. Rather, take on a proactive demeanour by demonstrating your ability to face challenges head on, even if that means asking for support from those around you.

Remember, how we interact and communicate with people around us and with ourselves (through internal communication/thoughts) can significantly impact how we are perceived. Ensure you are perceived in a positive and professional way by adopting some of the above tips!

By the way you’ll be pleased to know that after spending some time with the person I mentioned earlier, we were able to work on his marketing documentation as well as his communication and presentation style. He’s having far more positive results within this job search, which is pleasing to hear.

If you feel like you could be jeopardising your (online and offline) networking and interviewing efforts by not projecting a professional persona, then come and listen in to our upcoming radio show ‘Help! I need a job’. We’ll be sharing important online and offline networking communication strategies to help you win that job.

To your success!


Guest Expert:

Annemarie Cross is a Radio Host on CareerRadio.com.au, a Career Coach, Personal Branding Strategist, a triple certified multi award-winning Professional Resume Writer and Author of ’10 key steps to Ace that Interview’.

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