This is a big topic, and one I’m really excited to cover, because I think it’s something a lot of people get wrong, either because they’re misinterpreting the advice they’re given, or because they’ve never been given any advice at all.
Growing up, I was taught a very specific way to be a professional. I was taught to have the right handshake, present a professional (safe) appearance, keep my demeanor pleasant, and have a strong, knowledgeable presence. I appreciate the advice and coaching I was given, but as I grew older and held more positions, I found that the conventional wisdom on professionalism wasn’t working for who I am and the industry I’m in—in some ways, it was holding me back. So, while handshakes, appearance, demeanor, and presence are important, I firmly believe there are a number of ways to be professional.
Moreover, I think there are many ways to be unprofessional.
In this series, I want to cover both sides of professionalism. I hope to provide tips that you can mix and match to best benefit your personality and how your industry operates, and to give you concrete examples of how not to behave or present yourself. Of course, there are some tips that won’t work in practice, and some warnings that may not apply to you; but while nothing is going to work 100% of the time I aim to give you the most tried and true tips.
If there are any specific scenarios you would like advice on, please don’t hesitate to send them to me!