Being a professional in your chosen field means much more than wearing a coat and tie or possessing a college degree and a noted title. Professionalism also has to do with how you conduct yourself during your business affairs. True professionals possess a number of important characteristics that can apply to virtually any type of business.
A professional is neat in appearance. Be sure to meet or even exceed the requirements of your company’s dress code, and pay special attention to your appearance when meeting with prospects or clients.
Your demeanor should exude confidence but not cockiness. Be polite and well-spoken whether you’re interacting with customers, superiors or co-workers. You need to keep your calm, even during tense situations.
As a professional, you will be counted on to find a way to get the job done. Responding to people promptly and following through on promises in a timely manner is also important, as this demonstrates reliability.
Professionals strive to become experts in their field, which sets them apart from the rest of the pack. This can mean continuing your education by taking courses, attending seminars and attaining any related professional designations.
Professionals such as doctors, lawyers and public accountants must adhere to a strict code of ethics. Even if your company or industry doesn’t have a written code, you should display ethical behavior at all times.
Maintaining Your Poise
A professional must maintain his poise even when facing a difficult situation. For example, if a colleague or client treats you in a belligerent manner, you should not resort to the same type of behavior.
Your phone etiquette is also an important component of professional behavior. This means identifying yourself by your full name, company and title when you place a call. Be sure not to dominate the conversation and listen intently to the other party.
During written correspondence, keep your letters brief and to the point. Your tone should be polite and formal without being “stuffy.” This also applies to email correspondence.
A professional can quickly and easily find what is needed. Your work area should be neat and organized, and your briefcase should contain only what is needed for your appointment or presentation.
Professionals are accountable for their actions at all times. If you make a mistake, own up to it and try to fix it if possible. Don’t try to place the blame on a colleague. If your company made the mistake, take responsibility and work to resolve the issue.
Avoid Being Unprofessional
Your employer may not tell you exactly their own view of what being professional means. But we all know from experience how to get labelled as “unprofessional.” By finishing tasks or projects late, for instance. Being unprepared when attending meetings. Spending time gossiping at work.
Other ways to be seen as unprofessional? Treat people with disrespect. Keep them waiting unnecessarily. Steal their thunder by using their ideas without giving them credit. Say one thing then do the complete opposite. Break promises regularly.