Successful people attribute most, if not all, of their success to the relationships they have managed to secure and keep—just as much as the products/services they represent, and/or their technical and business know-how. In other words, your business is as good as the value that your professional network of customers, associates, employees and other stakeholders, places in you.
How you present yourself, how key business stakeholders perceive you, and how you manage both of these, is critical to your professional success. Your communication and appearance creates the first impression and usually the lasting impression on those that you meet. Therefore it impacts the relationships that are most important to your business. Communication and appearance should be a prioritized part of your own internal corporate culture, with established thresholds and laser-precise consistency. I personally believe those who have mastered professional communication and appearance skills and techniques received most of their training early on from their parents and then fine-tuned that throughout life and various positions through necessity. In addition, how you present yourself, how others perceive you and what you do about it, usually comes down to respect for yourself and others. The way you communicate with others and present yourself begs the question “Would you hire and/or refer yourself to your best customer?” If the answer is anything less than “yes,” immediately, you may need to revisit how you present yourself and/or communicate with others. Excellent communication skills and good appearance is not rocket-science. With a little bit of self awareness and direction, it can be learned and executed with ease.
So, what’s acceptable and exceptional presentation and communications for business success? How can a professional measure his/her own communications and appearance? What, if anything, can be improved to better results? Where does one start?
Professional Communications & Presentation Personal Checklist
Despite the kind of profession you are in and/or whether you represent products, services or both, there are several areas to consider and/or measure yourself against to see if you are communicating and presenting yourself professionally for optimal business success. Here are just a few yes/no questions to get you thinking (circle Yes or No for each):
- Are you punctual? Do you show up to meetings and business appointments on time, early or consistently late? (Yes/No)
- Do you speak professionally, appropriately and with respect at all the times? (Yes/No) Or do you use slang and/or curse words occasionally, or speak too casually among business associates and/or clients?
- Do you dress professionally and appropriate for the occasion that’s either on par with or better than those at the event or meeting? (Yes/No)
- Are you always clean, well-shaven (men) and have hair groomed properly? (Yes/No)
- Are you polite? Do you use “please” and “thank you” often? (Yes/No)
- Do you speak confidently with your words as well as with your body language? (Yes/No)
- Are you actively present during meetings or do you constantly access your mobile phone, laptop or other distracting device? (Yes/No)
The Professional Presentation and Communications Peer Test
Now that you know what “you” think of your professional communications and presentation, it’d be in your best interest to learn what others think. Simply share this with a mix of employees, customers and other stakeholders that you know will give an honest assessment:
On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being Best/Most Agreed and 5 being Worst/Least Agreed, answer the following:
- ______________ presents himself/herself in a professional manner at all times. He/she is clean, presentable and comes across as a credible professional (1 2 3 4 5)
- ______________ communicates clearly and articulately with confidence, respect for others and professionalism. (1 2 3 4 5)
- I would buy something from ______________. (1 2 3 4 5) If you answered anything other than 1, please explain why/why not?)
- I would refer ________________ to one of my customers. (1 2 3 4 5) If you answered anything other than 1, please explain why/why not?)
- ____________ is an active listener and is always present when we speak. He/she is attentive to the conversation and focused on our conversation. (1 2 3 4 5) If you answered anything other than 1, please explain why/why not?)
- _____________ leaves a good lasting impression. I am encouraged to want to continue a relationship and/or engage in a subsequent dialog. (1 2 3 4 5) If you answered anything other than 1, please explain why/why not?)
- If there were 3 things to improve with regards to professional presentation and communication, I would suggest _______________ consider the following:
Remember, your professional presentation and communication can have a huge and lasting impact on your business. How you present yourself, how key business stakeholders perceive you, and how you manage both of these, is critical to your professional success. Take it seriously and your may notice significant benefits.
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter @angbiasi.