Creating a Positive Professional Image

According to Harvard Business School professor Laura Roberts, your professional image is the set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your key constituents (i.e., clients, superiors, subordinates and colleagues).

You must take a strategic, proactive approach to managing your professional image. “If you aren’t managing your own professional image, then someone else is,” says Roberts. Since your constituents are constantly observing you, sizing you up as a professional, Roberts says, “It’s only wise to add your voice in framing others’ theories about who you are and what you can accomplish.”

The first thing you need to do is determine how you want to be regarded. Most working professionals list things such as highly committed to work, competent and dependable. These are fine attributes, but keep in mind research shows that some of the most valuable traits are broader, such as trustworthiness, caring and humility.

As you make out your list of attributes, it might help to distinguish between a desired and undesired professional image. The desired image is what you want your constituents to say about you. The undesired image is what you don’t want them to say.

The next step is a dedicated campaign that incorporates and exemplifies your values in an authentic and credible manner. One tactic: Identify values that you and your constituents share in common. If one participates in fundraising walks, do more than donate — join them. This is a great way to communicate common values and create a positive professional image.

While working on your professional image, be careful to avoid any false steps — literally the meaning of a “faux pas” — that undermine the image you are seeking to project.

from Prospect Mortgage “Big Idea” by Jeremy Daugherty

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