Professional Image: 5 Areas Where It Matters Most
“Today’s leaders should take note: Your professional image still matters.”
-Entrepreneur, June, 2015
One of the things that often gets neglected is what we call “professional image”. You’re too busy building contacts and growing a pipeline. And, many people write it off as an old school concept that is no longer relevant. But, when you are asking people to partner with you, invest in your business or buy from you, having a professional image matters. Not just for your business, but also for you. Because, if you’re an entrepreneur or start up, you are your business.
With that in mind, here are the five areas where experts say professional image, or lack thereof, is especially noticeable:
- Organizational: Not only “who does what” but where you do it is important. Are you meeting on the fly at Starbuck’s or in a conference room? Is your business address your home address or is it in an upscale building downtown?
- Message uniformity: Take some time to build your unique value proposition and message. Then leave it alone. Randomly changing core messaging causes brand confusion and reflects negatively on your image. Make sure your company description and value proposition are consistent across all media channels.
- Website: With so many website tools available, there is no excuse for: poorly written content, insufficient information, poor quality graphics and broken links. Get it right and keep it up to date.
- Social media: This is where you get a chance to inject a bit of your own personality as well as build your brand. Just make sure you keep your audience in mind. Your social media channels are ideal for “getting personal” while keeping it on point professionally.
And, while we’re talking about getting personal…
- Personal image: Present yourself in a way that promotes, not demotes your company. First impressions count. A UCLA study found that up to 37% of first impressions are made based on tone of voice, when in person, and 80% on the phone. Make sure your tone and demeanor reflect your business audience, not necessarily your happy hour cohorts.And, just in case you have one of those headshot-less profiles on LinkedIn; just know you’re your profile is 11 times less likely to be viewed.
Remember that you are known by the company you keep. Surround yourself with other professionals. Seek out environments that put you among potential mentors as well as future prospects. Build and respect your professional image and others will respect it as well.