How’s your professional image?
Does it convey a true sense of your talent and expertise?
Or does it distract potential customers/employers and undermine the impression you make?
Whether you’re looking for more customers, a promotion or a new career, you need to avoid these common mistakes if you want to create a great impression. Developing a professional image takes a little preparation and personal organization, but you’ll gain huge dividends.
How To Make A Good Impression: 7 Keys To A Professional Image
1. Lose the blurry photo of yourself looking boozy at after-work drinks
Ideally, get a professional photo of yourself for your online profiles (eg, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In). It will make a good impression on others, and help you feel more confident about yourself, too.
If this is too expensive, ask a friend to take a photo that’s suitable for the work you do – or want to do.
At the very least, crop a head-shot of yourself from an existing photo that’s in focus and attractive.
2. Don’t be boring when explaining what you do
A bland description of your job or services can be an instant conversation killer. Avoid the ‘Oh. *pause* I have to go over there now.’ response by sprucing up your self description.
For instance, my description is adapted from a technique I learned in Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid. Instead of saying,
‘I’m a writer for a website’ [BORING!]
‘You know how some people struggle to overcome procrastination, or to get organized, or to get rid of clutter? Well, I create programs at GetOrganizedWizard.com that help people to get motivated and take action.
You can use the same formula:
You know how some people [insert problem you solve]?
Well, I [insert how you solve problem].
So if you’re a financial planner you might say something like,
“You know how some people worry about how much money they’ll need for retirement, and how to go about preparing for it? Well, I help people analyze their goals and financial positions and set plans in motion.”
3. Avoid over-sharing online
Be personal and authentic in your online profiles – it will help people get a sense of you.
These days it’s common for both customers and employers to do online searches of people they want to work with. So be cautious about sharing information that’s too personal or *ahem* ‘inappropriate’.
Tweeting about your love of gardening, running or model trains is one thing. Providing graphic details about your feather fetish is another.
4. Scrap [email protected]
Your email address should be simple and professional.
If you have a business, use your business URL – eg [email protected].
Remember that a potential customer or employer may have to type in your email address – keep it professional.
5. Toss self-printed business cards
Cards run off on your home printer say ‘I don’t take my business seriously’ – so why should anyone else?
Business cards are a small expense that make a big difference. Invest a little time and money in cards that represent you.
Make sure you include your:
- Business name
- Email address
- Phone numbers/addresses
- Short description of your business or service, if this isn’t obvious from your business name.
Keep a stack of cards in your bag or pocket and replenish it regularly. Then when someone asks for one, you’ll be prepared.
6. Re-think the scruffy look
You might do fabulous work and believe you have the right to dress however you like. And of course you do.
The thing is, people don’t know you do fabulous work, so they will likely extrapolate from whatever information they have. If your clothes are untidy, they might subconsciously think, well, scruffy clothes, scruffy work.
So get yourself at least a couple of outfits you can wear for networking events, interviews etc. Choose clothes that look and feel good, and that give people a sense of the best of you.
7. Stop snarling
Smile! It looks good, feels good, makes you more approachable and comes through in your personality.
Whether you’re communicating in person, by phone or in writing, keep a smile on your face.
I’m smiling now – can you tell? 🙂
[Image by The-Lane-Team]