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.
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.”