Are you worried about how others view your authority and role in your company? You’re not alone. Lots of business professionals—both owners and employees—feel like they’re not respected by colleagues or other professionals in their industry.
Anyone can improve their credibility. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in or what you look like—you have the ability to change how people perceive you by making a few minor adjustments to how you present yourself professionally.
We can divide these adjustments into two categories: “materialistic” and “intellectual”. “Materialistic” refers to changes in the materialistic things about your work aura—like your wardrobe. “Intellectual” refers to changes in your demeanor and communicativeness—they’re primarily mental qualities.
Intellectual changes are arguably more important than materialistic ones; after all, plenty of great dweebs and con artists have demonstrated the ability to dress well and bask in material goods. But improving your external presentation can help you gain respect from your colleagues, and can bolster the professional vibe that you want to exude.
1. Dress well
Professional dress is one of the “musts” of the business world. If you’re a gentleman, you’ll want to dress in a suit and tie for formal occasions, and, at the very minimum, wear a collared shirt and tie around the office. If you’re a lady, you’ll also want to wear professional attire around the office, and a blazer at formal settings.
Remember that by “formal,” we don’t just mean company dinners or parties. You should consider formal events to be meetings with other businesspersons, potential investors and clients, and anyone that has the power to affect the success of your business.
Nowadays, it’s trendy to have a “casual workplace.” Employees are allowed at these offices to dress in casual clothing, and it’s a good strategy to keep the workplace fun and positive. If necessary, though, you need to be able to shift your office environment from casual to formal, just in case you’re visited by more traditional business people.
No matter what, it’s better to dress professionally as often as you can. You never know when you’re going to run into a potential client or investor. And nothing provides an air of professionalism more than a sharp outfit.
2. Upgrading your ride
Presentation is important, and it doesn’t just stop with the way you dress. If you own a business, or do enough for your company that involves meeting with investors or clients, you should consider obtaining a luxury vehicle. When you’re visiting another office or meeting with investors, arriving with a little extra class pushes the idea that you and your company are succeeding. These are the small details that are noticed by industry professionals and can matter more than you think.
Of course, you don’t need to personally own a luxury vehicle—that’s not a worthwhile investment if you’re a small business owner or even just working in middle management. There is another option, though. Your business could choose to lease a luxury vehicle and use it as a company car. If you’re not familiar with car leasing, a car lease is where you rent a car for a short period of time (a few years, perhaps). You don’t own the car, but you’re free to use it for however long the contract allows. The monthly payments are much cheaper than if you were to buy a luxury car with a bank loan.
By having a luxury vehicle, you won’t need to worry about your image when you arrive at business meetings or conferences. Sometimes it can be the difference between making a good first impression and losing their interest before you walk in the door! If you want to get a better estimate on what a luxury car lease will cost your business, search a term like “Mercedes-Benz dealership near me” and see the going rates for latest-model leases.
3. Clean workspace
Whether you’re working in a wide, luxurious corner office, or a small cubicle, your workspace should always be clean and presentable. A clean workspace communicates the notion that you’ve got a handle on all your tasks. A clean workspace is also welcoming. It communicates that others may feel comfortable visiting you, that you’re open to collaboration and networking.
“Clean workspace” does not mean “boring workspace.” You can have a tidy office and also infuse it with personality. If you have a favorite hobby, movie, or memento, it’s fine to have it in your office so long as it’s presented professionally.
1. Professional manners
When you’re interacting with other professionals, you want to make sure that:
- You maintain eye contact
- You offer a firm handshake
- You use polite manners like “please” and “thank you”
These social mannerisms are relatively simple, but they can be difficult to master if you’re not an extreme extrovert. With enough practice, you can make all of these behaviors second-nature.
That doesn’t mean you should be have to be overly serious. In fact, staying positive at work is another way to win people over. The more people recognize you as an uplifting force in the office, the more likely they are to trust your opinion and turn to you for advice.
You should also learn to memorize people’s names. If you have to, keep names (with short descriptions of each person and their title) in a notebook to refer to until you’ve committed them to memory. Not only is this a good way to build a strong connection, it also shows that you care about the people you work with, not just your work.
We saved the most difficult for last. The most important thing you have to do to be taken seriously as a professional is to be assertive.
Be assertive about:
- Your goals
- Work you’re happy with
- Work you’re unhappy with
- Your opinions about matters related to your tasks
Being assertive is not the same thing as being rude; you can express your thoughts and opinions without putting other people down or being negative. Being assertive is being honest about what you want, what you need, and what you’re struggling with. It’s proclaiming your potential to be a good colleague or business partner, and also your expectation that others rise to your high standards. This will help in all facets of your work life, whether in meetings with colleagues or successfully networking with other industry leaders. More than anything, assertiveness is key to exuding credibility as a businessperson.
With these simple tips in mind, you’re well on your way to feeling confident and credible in your workplace on a daily basis.