Managing your message is critical. I’ve blogged at length this year about how to set up your professional marketing materials to ensure that they represent you properly, and that they are in keeping with 2018 best practices.
But there’s more… you need to manage your message in real time as well. That means, from first impressions straight on through to long-term relationships — each and every exchange you have with industry colleagues, is an opportunity to manage your professional message.
The short story: you are messaging your community in everything that you do. So it follows that it would make sense to stop every now and again, and take a good long look at how you’re presenting to the outside world.
Within seconds of meeting, or doing internet outreach to someone, your message is immediately categorized. Humans are lazy; they will label you, because it’s the easiest thing to do. Unfortunately, the label (positive or negative) they assign you will become their default position. They will forever carry their first impression of you. Like, you just judged my picture, right?!
…So how do you present? Under or over-confident? Negative? Fearful? Intimidated? Trying too hard? Insecure? Overly formal and rigid? Blustery? Nudge-nudge, wink-winker? Or, are you focused, pleasant, open, interesting, interested, confident, welcoming, facilitative, professional, kind? These characteristics don’t only come across in person, they come across on paper, and on digital profiles too. Your social media profiles send macro messages too. Remembering that communication is always two degrees removed form reality (yours and mine), what you think is funny online, can so easily be misread by others.
Pro Tip 1: Make your default position “professional/knowledgeable”. Period.
Pro Tip 2: Understanding the concept that we are ALL subject to categorizing each other, incorporate openness and inclusivity to every professional action you take.
If you’re not sure how to get started on this, let’s address professionalism and knowledge first — the hallmarks of leadership! Being a professional is exactly that. A true professional’s mission is to keep “facilitation for others” top of mind. Maintaining a “service orientation” is always welcomed by others, and is a great message to send. Increasing networking, public speaking and presentation skills are all great places to learn how to build your personal messaging strengths. And knowledge, will always put you at the front of the line.
Knowledge is power, because it gives you confidence. When you augment your knowledge, you will automatically feel, and be, more on your game. If you want to build your business acumen beyond your particular craft or service, study your industry overall. Read professional white papers, industry forecasts, or sign up for information alerts on your business and/or industry. The more you know, the more valuable you are to potential employers. So make life-long learning a top priority in your career! (Or, as one of my former bosses put it: “professionals bring answers to the table, not questions…”)
Once these you have professionalism and knowledge acquisition firmly established as frameworks in your mind and in your actions, a simple shift in your mindset to ensure inclusivity is paramount. We ALL want a kinder, more civil, ordered, and nurturing reality.
Be part of the solution. Let that be your message.
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