Build a strong professional image in and out of the workplace to advance your career.
If you want to get ahead at the office, you need to establish a professional brand on and offline that emphasizes your strengths and supports your job goals.
Here are ten ways to boost your professional image in and out of the workplace to help you achieve your long-term career goals.
If one of the company’s executives decided to check you out online, what would they find? A well-branded online presence is just as important for a career-driven professional as it is for an active job seeker. Google your name and review the first page of results. Does each listing support or weaken your professional brand? Take the steps to improve these results by overhauling your online brand.
If you’re attending an event that’s sure to be crowded, get there early and grab a seat at the table so you don’t end up in a chair on the outskirts of the room. This way, it will be easier to join in the conversation and voice your opinion. If you have something to contribute to the discussion, speak up – don’t wait for an opening to appear, as you may miss your window.
The best way to maintain a long, prosperous career is to never stop learning. Seek out professional development opportunities through relevant webcasts, Meetups, and other membership associations. Prove that you are a valuable resource to your employer by sharing your newfound knowledge with the members of your team.
How many people do you know named Sarah or Mike? Whether you’re networking during your free time or meeting new colleagues at your office, it’s best to introduce yourself to others using your full name. Not only will you sound more professional, but you’re likely to be more memorable. Leave the first-name only introductions to Madonna and Usher.
If you haven’t taken advantage of your company’s extracurricular activities before, now’s your chance. Whether it’s the company picnic, the co-ed soccer league or a weekend dedicated to Habitat for Humanity, find something that interests you and join. Or better yet, start your own Corporate Social Responsibility program. It’s a great way to establish your brand at the organization and informally network with colleagues from other parts of the company.
The right mentor can shape your professional skills, teach you the ins and outs of your industry, help you navigate corporate politics, overcome adversity, and introduce you to the right people and resources to advance your career. As you become more involved with your organization and relevant networking groups, it will be easier to identify the right person to become your mentor.
Most executives agree that confidence is essential to being a good leader and strong negotiator. You have to exude self-assurance, even when you feel lost and helpless. Keep this in mind when you’re taking on a new project or giving a big presentation to an important client. When all else fails, fake it ’til you make it.
Do you have a tendency to apologize in the workplace, even when we’ve done nothing wrong? While you may think you’re merely being polite, you’re actually hurting your image. Think about it: If you’re apologizing all the time, you’re unintentionally telling your boss that you make a lot of little mistakes. Research has shown that men will often interpret this behavior as a sign of weakness or a lack of conviction. Whether you’re closing a business deal or negotiating your compensation, don’t be apologetic.
If you want to get ahead, you not only have to deliver results above expectations – you have to be recognized for your accomplishments. If you’re working on a project that’s going well, don’t be afraid to share your enthusiasm with your boss. At the end of the project, share the results — especially if they were good. You can’t be promoted if no one is aware of your great work.
Document your major contributions and achievement so you’re always prepared to discuss the value you bring to the organization. This is especially useful when you’re updating your professional profiles, sitting down for your annual review or preparing to ask for a raise or promotion with your boss.
Take these steps to bolster your professional brand and show management that you’re ready for the next step in your career.