As a young, entry-level professional I fell into the trap of thinking, “This is how business people work. This is how they write. This is how they answer the phone.” I played by what I thought were the rules, but it was all very buttoned up and very … not me.
I’m not sure where I got the idea that there is only one style of professionalism (maybe from watching “Working Girl” too many times?). Luckily, a few wonderful mentors and successful business people showed me by example that it’s just too boring to stick to the “professional” script. Here’s what works for me:
- Wear clothes that actually resemble your true style. Nobody is interested in an uncomfortable person draped in an ill-fitting suit!
- Be yourself. Talk to your clients the way you’d speak with your friends at a dinner party — with congenial conversation, thoughtful listening, and a nice, cool beverage.
- Don’t be overly formal on email because it can come across as demanding. A successful publicist once told me, “Don’t make journalists dread receiving a boring email from you.”
After 20 years in this business, I have realized my authentic character is a core contributing factor to the success of our agency – and my own professional happiness.