Are you always as professional as you could be?
Although no one is perfect (including myself), we can only strive to be the best we can be. We will make mistakes along the way. It's what we do to correct those mistakes and how we handle ourselves that really matters. As many people are jumping on the “social networking” bandwagon to communicate with friends, colleagues, family, clients, etc, it is important to remember that what we say and do out there, can be and is read by everyone. Yes, everyone. These are 10 things I try and follow as I immerse myself into the social networking web. They are 10 Ways to Remain Professional:
1. Once it's written and published, it's out there. You can't take it back.
This is really important and often times, we forget that the little quips we write on sites such as Twitter or Facebook, can be read by everyone. Sometimes we say silly things, and that is ok. But if you are trying to project a professional image of yourself and your business (on the internet) then think about how you sound before you press ‘send'. Remember: It takes years to gain respect and only a second to lose it.
2. People always see how you act.
Remember that you are setting an example. When people read what you write, make sure you project an image of professionalism. You are setting an example when you speak. Of course, not everyone will start to act the same way as you. But by setting an example of professionalism, you are more likely to spread professionalism as opposed to negativity and unbecoming behavior. So, if you complain about colleagues, competitors, friends, clients and vendors, make sure you take great care when choosing your words. Often times, people are looking for role models, guidance and examples to follow. Complaining is nothing to be proud of and spreading the negativity will only perpetuate it. Instead, try and put a positive spin on the situation. This will most likely gain you the respect you surely want.
3. Pay it forward.
Sharing your experiences and knowledge is a great way to spread the wealth. By helping others, you ultimately learn more. And when you ‘pay it forward' you most certainly receive it back ten-fold. It's the “what goes around comes around” theory. Think about how great it is when someone selflessly shares something they have learned, with you. Those few things may seem insignificant at the time, but looking back, they may be the lessons that help catapult your business into full-blown success. Imagine how great it would be to know you helped someone else grow, the same way.
4. Learn from others.
Let's face it. No one knows everything, all the time. We may want to think we do, but honestly… we don't. I always like to say “if you don't learn something new every day, you're not trying hard enough”. Life is a never ending mystery with lessons to be learned at every turn. Being open to learning new things makes you stronger, wiser and more powerful in your work.
5. Be honest. Not brutal.
I believe that honesty is a great trait for anyone to possess and practice. Sometimes, we forget that there is another person on the other end of that honesty and we are a bit too brutal with our words. Practicing diplomacy when communicating any sort of criticism or opinion will gain you much more respect, as well as ensure that the person hearing it will receiving with openness. Blurting out the honest opinions and feedback (as genuine as we may think they are) can be received as harsh insensitive words. Think about how you'd want someone to communicate with you.
6. Do what you say you're going to do.
This is a fairy simple concept. I'm not always the best at this, but usually it's because I get busy. It's not a good excuse, but I'm being honest. If you want people to take you seriously and think you are reliable, then always do what you say you're going to do. Follow through. If you are always making empty promises, eventually people will see just that. Be credible.
7. Acknowledge your mistakes.
As I said at the beginning, no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to admit when we've erred and learn. It's ok to make errors, but when you can acknowledge when that occurs, and do what you can to change it for next time, you will once again, gain respect. It's human to make mistakes. Everyone does it. Admitting it is admirable. Getting over it and on with it is even more admirable.
8. Be open to criticism.
There will always be an opinion out there that will differ from your own. The important thing to realize is that an opinion is only an opinion. It's not always personal. That doesn't mean that the criticism (or opinion) doesn't hold some value from which you can learn. Those who are open to critique will gain far more than those who are not. Some of my greatest strides (professionally AND personally) were developed as the result of my willingness to be open to other's criticism. Embrace it.
9. You can't please everyone, and not everyone is going to please you.
This sort of goes alone with #8 “Be open to criticism”. Many people spend great amounts of time trying to please everyone, and get upset if they can't. The reality is that likes and dislikes are always subjective. What one person is attracted to, another may reject. That's just how life works. If you can accept that you will not always please every person you come in contact with, then you will go much farther in your career. Accept that some people, no matter what you say or do, will not like what you've said or done. That is ok. Just know that it's not personal (most of the time) and move on to the next.
10. Be yourself.
This is very important. Be who you are. You are the original you. Following the points listed above, and be your honest self. People around you will be able to see the real you, no matter what you do. When you are yourself, the real self, you will feel more confident and self assured that you're the best you can be. You are always working to improve, no matter what you're working on. People will respect you for being yourself. It's professional and will create a lasting impression. Keep in mind, sometimes people may try and imitate you, but remember: imitation is the greatest form of flattery. That's not an invitation to be like someone else, but know that we all pick up little mannerisms and skills from spending time with those around us. It's human nature. People enjoy spending time with those that are genuine in all that they say and do.
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