Too often how we want people to view us and how they actually do are not the same. To create the professional image you want to convey, start by mapping out exactly how you’d like to be seen. Ask yourself these questions:
- How do people see me now? Consider your boss’s, coworkers’ and vendors’ possible views of you. How do they treat you in meetings? Do they make time for your calls? Are you given great projects? All of those interactions can give you clues to how people perceive you.
- How do I present verbally? Are you well-spoken and relaxed in your delivery? Or are you hurried and uncomfortable? Are you warm in your interactions or strictly business? Consider your tone, word choice and grammar, and note if those elements are where you want them to be.
- What does my body language say about me? Do you make eye contact? Are your gestures rushed and erratic or smooth and confident? Watch yourself in the mirror while you practice a typical interaction with someone and note your mannerisms.
- Is my job performance where I want it to be? Are you landing great projects and completing them with success? Are you granted promotions or new learning opportunities? What comes down the pike to you can speak volumes about how you are perceived.
After you evaluate yourself for possible perceptions, note the areas with gaps and create a plan. Set specific goals to help you achieve your desired image. Would taking a grammar or public speaking class help you advance? How about attending a work-related conference or workshop? Close the gaps you discovered to grow your professional image.
— Adapted from “Align Your Desired & Perceived Professional Images,” Eva Rykrsmith, www.quickbase.intuit.com.