How to build a strong image In the new year and beyond

published by Connect Magazine

The way others view you may have a lot more impact on your long-term career prospects than you may think. Accomplishment always comes first, but realistically your image in the workplace is a close second. 

It’s important to craft your image the right way: There is a fine line between tastefully promoting yourself and just plain bragging. We have all listened to folks who want to do nothing but talk about themselves—all they have accomplished, all the people they know, even all the things they did over the weekend! Boring. That is exactly the wrong way to go about earning a respectable image.  

A much better way to do this is to “show rather than tell.” Be a solid contributor and a good team player—and pursue only positive and constructive subjects in your organization. Following are a few suggestions about how to tastefully and professionally promote your image at work:

1. Be visible. Make time to walk around and talk to people. Get to know your team, your peers and those in higher-level positions. Attend company events and social gatherings. Do your duties accurately and on time, but don’t be a full-time slave to your workstation. Make sure others know who you are.

2. Look and act professional. Dress for the position and if you’re ever in doubt dress one level up. (Dress like the boss.) Greet others with a firm handshake and look them in the eye. Stay connected—don’t drift—during conversation. 

3. Be a conversationalist. Keep a few good questions in your head so you can easily kick off any conversation. As we know, people like to talk about themselves, so probe deeper on topics that seem important to them. Pay attention, be engaged and make the person you’re communicating with feel like the conversation is the most important thing on your mind.

4. Network. Get to know key folks both inside and outside your organization in more than just a casual way. Take the initiative to schedule coffee or lunch with those you want to get to know. Follow up on your networking efforts with a handwritten thank you note, followed by appropriate emails, calls or visits, as you see fit. 

5. Share accomplishments. You want others to know what you have done, but you don’t want to be known as a braggadocio. Discuss your achievements only when you feel the time and place is right. Think about subjects that might have the most impact. For example, business leaders often like to discuss revenue growth and cost reductions. 

6. Give a speech. One of the best ways to build you image as a leader is to give a good speech.  Prepare carefully and thoroughly. When you speak the audience automatically recognizes you as a leader, so make the most of each speaking opportunity. 

7. Show appreciation. When you observe a co-worker’s accomplishment, don’t be shy about offering an appropriate “pat on the back.” And in any situation, a liberal and sincere use of “please” and “thank you” always goes a long way. 

8. Be on time. Respecting other people’s time may be one of the easiest yet most profound ways to earn the image you want. Work on showing up before you’re supposed to, making meetings as succinct as possible and keeping your commitments. 

The image you portray in your organization and in the business community can have enormous influence on your career. Make it a good one!

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