I enjoy arriving to meetings early. This isn’t just because I am extremely punctual, I also love to people watch. (You do too, don’t you? It’s okay, I won’t tell!) I often find myself wondering what people think when they are people watching me. I will be honest, some days I shouldn’t receive a glowing review. You cannot be “on” every day and no one expects you to be, but that doesn’t stop people from forming their opinions about you and your level of competence.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a new program we are offering at the Nonprofit Leadership Center, Take Control of Your Professional Presence. The program is taught by a wonderful consultant, Margarita Sarmiento. (I highly recommend that you join us next time it is offered.) Margarita explained not only the importance of your professional presence, but also how to improve your presence and control the image that you portray to the world. Below I have shared a few tips that everyone can incorporate to improve their image in and out of the office.
- Smile! Not everyone is a natural smiler, but you can make an effort to smile at people. This simple act makes you seem more open and approachable.
- Make eye contact. Eye contact shows that you care enough to pay attention to the other person. Even if that just means stopping what you are doing to ask if you can continue the conversation later when you can give it the appropriate attention.
- Lead by example. Make sure your actions are demonstrating what you expect of others. People mimic the actions they see most often.
- Always make sure your outfit meets the 4 P’s: polished, professional, pulled together and people friendly.
- Make your comments worthwhile and memorable. This will sometimes require you to stop and think about what to say, but it is worth the extra time.
- Always ask yourself, “What message am I sending right now?” and adjust if needed.
We all want to make a great impression, first or otherwise, but sometimes forget that people are always observing. It only a takes a little more thought and a minute at the most to act on any of the tips above, but the benefit to your image is invaluable.
What other tips do you live by to improve or maintain your image?