Image Is Everything: How to Project Professionalism and Success

by Emily Retherford

2 min read

Human beings evolved to make snap judgments about the people they meet — a sort of defensive filtering mechanism to quickly identify friend from foe. This is why you often get the sense that you really like and trust somebody right off the bat or, alternatively, that you don’t have good feelings about that person you just met — even if you can’t explain why. These snap judgments carry over to the business world, which is why it is so important to maintain a professional image that makes people feel good about working with you. The right image can go a long way to landing you that new client or promotion that you’ve been hoping for.

Appearance: Matching the Expectations of Success

The standards of professional dress change over time and vary from industry to industry. Your job is to adapt to whatever norms are considered acceptable and successful for your industry, and then take it up a notch to let everyone else know that you are not just another face in the crowd. Your clothing choices affect and reflect your self-image. Wearing an impressive outfit can create give you a self-fulfilling confidence boost and make others want to work with you. In many business settings, it is considered appropriate to have clean, ironed clothing that fits your body and projects success. Follow these rules and show that you take yourself seriously and have high standards. This should carry over to your grooming — nobody wants to work with someone who looks unclean or smells poorly.

Communication: The Art of Conversation

Learning correct manners and etiquette can greatly contribute to your professional development. There are two pillars of masterful communication at work — knowing the correct rituals and being authentic in the moment. Rituals are an integral part of group behaviour that signal familiarity and trust. To take a simple example, most professionals shake hands when they meet each other or after they agree to terms on a contract. If you go through a drive-through restaurant, you expect the worker on the other side to ask for your order in a certain way. Word choice, tone, and expressive behaviour are all important signs of ritual familiarity. Let everyone know that you’ve been in these situations before and you feel comfortable. Whenever you speak with someone, try to get out of your head and into the present moment. Look the other person in the eye, listen patiently, and express understanding when they speak. If you want greater success with people in all walks of life, especially with customers and clients, you want to create a real connection and get them to like you. This can be as important as being technically proficient in your craft.

Your Professional Frame: The Right Tools and Accessories

What you carry with you and surround yourself with can affect how others perceive you. This includes everything from the car you drive to what pictures you keep in your office. Every tool and accessory has the potential to create or dissipate trust.

References & Resources

Related Articles

What’s Changed in the New QuickBooks

The new QuickBooks Online bookkeeping software has gone through quite a few changes. As…

Read more

Get Paid On Time The Complete Guide to Invoices

For freelancers and self-employed people, invoicing is an essential part of your…

Read more

How to Start a Consulting Business

If you’ve worked in a specific industry or field for any length of…

Read more