Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it, and doing it. – Frank Tyger

While skill set and talent are essential to having a successful career, one aspect that many people often overlook is the major role social skills play in boosting a career.  Sure, work is not a high school popularity contest, but the way in which you interact with others can be a deal breaker in the professional world. Even seasoned veterans in an industry might be unaware of how they come across to co-workers and clients. Whether you are starting a new role or have been in the industry for years, it is important to project a professional image in the workplace.

Not only does inappropriate behavior indicate a lack of employee development, but it can make others feel uncomfortable. People want to conduct business with people who are socially and professionally accomplished. Poor behavior reflects negatively on the individual and on the organization. To avoid uncomfortable situations that may accompany inappropriate behavior, cultivate a professional image that allows you to navigate the professional environment with ease and comfort.

Business professionalism reveals itself through phone communication, written emails, and meeting interactions. With more and more communication taking place over the phone and online for added convenience and quick means of interaction, face-to-face communication skills can begin to lag. While most business communication does not necessarily require in-person interaction, it is important to remember that face-to-face interactions still play a huge role in business relationships. Through in-person meetings, successful negotiations can be made, networking can be done, and client satisfaction can be further enforced. Use the following tips to set yourself apart and ensure you demonstrate proper, professional business etiquette in meetings.

  1. Be On Time: You can earn yourself respect by arriving at meetings a few minutes early and taking several minutes to prepare, review your notes, and collect yourself. This shows that you appreciate the time and attention of those attending the meeting. Continual promptness will not go unnoticed, and you will earn a reputation of professionalism.
  2. Be Amiable: While it is important to be serious and focused among co-workers and clients, that does not mean you cannot also be friendly and sociable. The way you greet other people can have a direct effect on the way you are perceived. Always acknowledge others with a greeting when you enter a conference room. Not only will you seem professional, but others will want to work with you when they have the opportunity to do so.
  3. Be a Good Listener: If you are conducting a meeting, it is very reasonable that you will have more to say than everyone else in the room. However, if you meet with a client or partner, especially in their office, you must always be respectful of the person leading the conversation. Know when it is a good time to interject your thoughts and when to give your attention to the meeting leader.
  4. Be Well-Dressed: Always take the time to consider appropriate attire before a meeting. The industry you work in, the meeting attendees, and the meeting topic are all determinants of the proper dress code. While it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed, the best option is to fit in with everyone else. Make sure your overall appearance is neat and presentable. This includes removing your hat, wearing appropriate shoes, and keeping your notes in a professional-looking binder.

Have you ever seen inappropriate behavior ultimately hurt a businessperson or company? What professional tips do you practice?

Check back soon for part II to get even more ways to maintain professionalism in the workplace.

Piera Palazzolo

Piera Palazzolo

Piera Palazzolo of Dale Carnegie Training wants to contribute to the online conversation about leadership and business management with the blogging community. Dale Carnegie Training was founded in 1912 by one of America’s most influential speakers and leaders. Today the company continues to work with individuals and businesses to build leadership, public speaking, and management skills that result in success.
Piera Palazzolo

Latest posts by Piera Palazzolo (see all)

Piera Palazzolo