Managing Your Professional Image

When is the last time you thought about your professional image?

I’m not simply referring to how you dress. Your professional image does include your appearance, and it also includes digital, competence and behaviors.

PRSA

PowerePoint slide from “Managing Your Professional Image” by Suzanne Updegaff

Suzanne Updegaff, president of Employee Development Systems challenged listeners on a PRSA webinar to consider our professional image and whether it is what we want it to be. This imagining, she said, “allows you to create and become the best you.”

Not only should we consider how we see ourselves, we should also consider how others imagine us.

The physical is noticed with respect to appearance, but there are other aspects of appearance to consider. For example, do you appear to be engaged in conversations? Are you bringing innovative solutions to problems?

Updegaff asked, “What would you like your appearance to tell others about you?”

I once worked with someone who wanted to be upper management. However, he did not dress the part, and others in the organization consequently did not see him in that light.

Another aspect to consider is how you behave and what the behavioral expectations are within your organization. If you work someplace that expects everyone to be in at 8 a.m. and you roll in at 9:30, your behavior may be perceived negatively. A good question to ask yourself, Updegaff said is, “Are you proud of your behaviors?”

Updegaff asked listeners what they wanted to be known as. Are these attributes aligned with your competence?

In the digital reality, Updegaff said, “Monitoring your digital image is just as vital as showing up.” She also asked us whether our digital voice had grown up.

One suggestion she made was to Google our names to see what others see. This is vital because people will Google us when they are considering hiring us. Those who work with us will Google us to learn more about us.

“Building your digital image is a proactive ongoing piece to your career development,” Updegaff said.

When you combine the four realities, they become your professional brand. Updegaff said, “Keeping up is about thinking forward in your career.” We need to ask what we will need to know, do or be next year that we aren’t today if we want to move forward. We should also consider what habits are holding us back.

Updegaff’s parting advice: “Imagine you as the most professional person you know.”

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How to Build a Publishing Resume

I update my resume every year, but as a writer I recently discovered I should have a publishing resume. It makes sense. Why would a publisher or agent want my resume that lists career highlights that have nothing to do with my writing career?

JRW Panel

Editors and writers shared their tips for building a publishing resume. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

At a recent James River Writers workshop, I learned what to include on this type of resume, as well as how I could gain additional credentials to put on the resume. Such a resume can help authors secure fellowships, awards and prizes. A publishing resume needs to include categories such as awards, speaking engagements and published works.

Why You Need a Publishing Resume

“It sets you up for all sorts of opportunities,” said Dana Isokawa, the associate editor of Poets & Writers Magazine, where she edits the magazine’s sections on writing contests and fellowships, literary news and trends, and conferences and residencies. “It’s a literary calling card.”

What I like about this idea is that it’s a great summary of my work to date.

“You want to sell yourself,” said David Streever, a journalist, author and editor-in-chief of RVA Mag’s print quarterly. He recommends placing your publishing resume on your own website.

Published Works

When it comes to adding links to articles you have written, the panelists had several suggestions on how to find freelance opportunities. One suggested making a list of all the topics you know and are good, and then finding stories on those topics to pitch to relevant publications.

Pitching editors is most often done by email. Be sure to proof the emails. “I get nervous when I pitch,” David said. “My brain shuts off.” To avoid mistakes, proof the email several times or ask someone else to review it before sending.

Another way to build your writing portfolio is to write a blog.

Fellowships

One area that the speakers highlighted was fellowships, which provide opportunities to further your writing and to be inspired by other writers.

Martha Steger, a prolific freelance writer, did caution writers to look for hidden fees, such as fellowships that only cover the cost of the stay and do not pay for WiFi, parking or travel.

Writers’ Groups

The value of belonging to writers groups also was touted. “You want to be part of a community that really cares,” Dana said.

I belong to James River Writers, Virginia Professional Communicators/National Federation of Press Women and Sisters in Crime. All provide me with invaluable guidance and access to successful writers.

ROI

Karen A. Chase suggested creating a budget for your submissions. At the end of year, have an ROI. If you enter a cost that costs $50 and you get a prize of $100 that is a 50 percent return. By allocating a set amount and tracking it, you can determine where you have success and where you might need to make changes to your approach.

I’m going to spend my next writing block working on my literary calling card.

 

 

PowerPoint Presentations Require Planning, Practice

PRSA Hampton Roads

Presentations require preparation and practice. 

The Institute for Crisis Management tracked 801,620 crisis news stories during 2017, an increase of more than 25 percent from 2016.

That’s why when the Hampton Roads chapter of PRSA asked me to present on crisis communications, I knew I was going to have to do some research on the latest incidents. Plus, it had been about four years since I last presented on the topic, and I would need to rework some of the slides. In all, I spent about 15 hours preparing.

Based on the feedback and follow-up questions, I think it was worth it.

I share this because some people think they can simply whip up a PowerPoint and then present. To succeed, the prep time is critical. Here are some areas to consider:

Design

  • Decide what the look and feel of your slides will be.
  • Identify the photos, illustrations and artwork that you will use.
  • Consistently use font face and type size on all slides

Text

  • Keep words to a minimum on the slides.
  • Avoid full sentences.
  • Never read your slides.

Take Away

  • Always summarize your 2-3 key points.
  • Make the key points memorable so they will stick with your audience.

Audience

  • Know the composition of your audience and tailor your presentation accordingly.
  • Find out what they are expecting.
  • Always ensure that your presentation description matches what you present.

Practice

  • Know your slides.
  • Speak with confidence.
  • Don’t speak too quickly.

The first practice round I did with my colleagues, I realized I had too many slides, and that I was treating the presentation as if it was a full-day training session. I spent a few more hours on it. I cut slides, added case studies and identified key points. I did a second practice session, and knew I had the right presentation.

The effort put into a presentation pays off when you look at the audience and you see people taking notes, tweeting and nodding in agreement.