Being a professional is an integral part of any business because people want to do business with pros they can rely on.
But what does it mean to be a professional? And what steps can you take to be more professional in your business?
Continue reading to discover eight tips on being a professional that will improve your performance and ensure that others are eager to do business with you.
1. Dress Like a Pro
No one wants to admit it, but the reality is that people will judge you, at least in part, by your appearance. As such, how you look is directly tied to the reputation of your business.
Make sure you dress professionally and look the part.
Early in his law career, famous attorney Johnnie Cochran wanted to be known as the go-to lawyer for the rich. Understanding that “looking the part” is half the battle, he bought a Rolls Royce and wore expensive suits. He knew the wealthy want to business with people who look like themselves.
Would you hire a realtor who wore shorts and a t-shirt? Naturally, you would expect your real estate agent to wear professional attire.
Would your company or social media photos show you playing sports “back in the day.” Or would it feature corporate headshots taken by a professional photographer?
Make sure you look the part so your ideal clients will feel comfortable doing business with you.
2. Practice Punctuality
Part of being professional is not behaving unprofessionally. And few things are as unprofessional as being late, no matter what the reason is.
Practicing punctuality shows you are able to manage your time. You arrive early because in business, being on time is late.
Adhere to all your deadlines and respect others’ time by practicing punctuality. And in those rare cases where your tardiness can’t be avoided, notify your partners and associates accordingly.
3. Be Organized
Another sign of professionalism is being organized. It’s hard to rattle you because your work is organized and you are on top of things.
When an important client or colleague asks you about a document or file, you know right where it is.
You adhere to your schedule, which means you always know what you are supposed to be doing at all times. You understand which priorities are highest and what can wait.
Become organized by cleaning and decluttering your office. Arrange your files and documents so you can access them at a moment’s notice. Rely on your schedule or planner to track tasks that need to be done to meet deadlines.
When others relay important information to you, write a note about it and don’t rely on your memory.
Your productivity and efficiency improves the more you organize your work. Being organized is more likely to result in more business and accolades.
4. Be Dependable
Part of being more professional is being more reliable. Clients and associates know they can count on you to do what you say you will do. And when things hit the proverbial fan, you are able to step up and get things back on track.
Consistency is part of dependability. In other words, your work always meets or exceeds a high standard and people know they can expect nothing less from you.
Of course, being a dependable professional means you are there when it counts. You aren’t missing in action when you are supposed to be doing something important, like giving a presentation or closing a deal.
5. Keep a Positive Attitude
Positivity is an underrated aspect of professionalism. No one wants to work with a whiner. No one wants to work with glass-half-empty people who say “I can’t” more often than “I can.”
It’s also important to maintain a good attitude consistently. You won’t do much business if clients and customers don’t know what kind of attitude you’ll be in on any given day.
Positive people search for solutions and naturally motivate others to go the extra mile. They also take kindly to criticism. Rather than pout about it, they see the feedback as an opportunity for growth.
When people decide if they want to hire or do business with someone, they instinctively want to know two things. First, can this person do the job? And second, do my team and I actually want to spend time with this person? People who are positive are easier to work with — ultimately leading to more business.
6. Be a Good Communicator
You can’t do business without talking with people. And the more clearly you communicate, the more likely you are to be successful.
Strong communicators are clear and concise to convey their message in a way everyone can understand. More importantly, they are outstanding listeners to make sure they are on the same page as others.
Good communication also involves effective business writing, including emails, letters, proposals and so on. You need to be able to create crystal clear messages and reply to others promptly.
7. Be Confident
Confidence is another underreported trait of successful professionals. Showing confidence is an extension of actually being confident. And people want to do business with people who believe in themselves.
Confidence happens naturally when you know what you are doing and what you excel at. When you are confident, it shows naturally. You don’t exhibit ego or arrogance. Instead, you appear sure of yourself.
When you are confident, you are comfortable doing things others may find risky. For example, you are not afraid to share new ideas or take on more responsibilities.
8. Be Respectful at All Times
As the old saying goes, “you get what you give.” If you want respect, you need to show equal respect to everyone, from the head of a company to the intern and everyone in-between.
Being respectful is a state of mind. You respect your colleagues and clients even when you disagree with them. When a business partner says something that doesn’t make sense, you don’t belittle them. You don’t gossip and speak negatively of others because ultimately that reflects poorly on you.
Final Thoughts on Being a Professional
If you’re working hard to build your business, it makes sense to make sure your efforts don’t go to waste through unprofessional behavior.
You really can attract more business by being a professional. People want to do business with people who are positive, respectful, punctual, confident and organized — all hallmarks of professionalism. Also, dress appropriately and communicate clearly to keep your reputation intact.
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