Professionalism: Do’s and Don’ts
Whether you’re a makeup artist or a writer, an event planner or a designer, you are a professional.
But what does that really mean? Basically, you never have a second chance to make a first impression. Especially when looking for clients or applying for a job, the slightest lack of professionalism can send that opportunity out the window.
Many professionals who are just starting out have a difficult time with where to draw the line between their personal and professional lives. Whether you’re meeting with a client, networking with partners, dealing with vendors, or interviewing for a job, you should always follow the simple rules of maintaining professionalism. Below you’ll find some of our greatest pet peeves when it comes to dealing with professionals.
DO: Check your spelling
Good luck, my friend. That portfolio is going in the trash.
Same when looking for a job, if a resume or cover letter contains a spelling or grammar mistake (or both), 10:1 you won’t be called in for an interview.
While you might be in the habit of writing “slang” when speaking to friends, texting or emailing, it’s so important to drop that habit when communicating in a professional manner. Whether you’re emailing, texting, or messaging someone over social media, always:
- Use full sentences. This includes proper punctuation.
- Check your spelling, and then check it again. You can use the spell checking feature in your internet browser to help ensure you avoid the most common spelling mistakes.
- Write in a clear and concise manner. Business communications are short and sweet. Of course you always want to be friendly and courteous, but there’s no need to drone on about irrelevant topics.
Interested in learning more about writing good business emails?
Read this: “Writing Tips: Sharpen Email Messages“
DON’T: Mix business and recreation on social media
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram… and dozens more social media networks to choose from. You probably have your own profile on at least some of these networks, where you keep in touch with family and friends.
One of the greatest mistakes you can make is to use your own personal account as a front for your business as well.
It’s easy to create business pages on all these networks, where you can share content relevant to your business without sharing personal information.
Going a step further, if your personal profile contains discussions that could be considered controversial or offensive, or photographs that depict you in a less-than-professional manner, you might want to think about changing your privacy settings to a “private” profile. This is especially crucial for job hunters!
DO: Dress appropriately
When you own a small business and especially if you work from home, there’s a tendency to think more casually. Especially if you’re entertaining clients, avoid the pajamas, sweat pants, or that favorite sweatshirt with the holes in it. This includes having clients over to your home studio for a makeup trial!
- Cleanliness and proper grooming are number one. If you’re working with a client’s clothing or makeup, let your client see you use a good hand sanitizer.
- Avoid heavily scented soaps or perfumes. Some clients can be very sensitive or even allergic to scents.
- Avoid jeans, shorts, cargo pants, t-shirts, etc. They give off the wrong impression.
- Invest in a smart business suit or two.
Looking for a new job?
Check out job interview styles!
DON’T: Become best friends with your clients
This is especially tricky for event planners or designers. You really get to know your client, in and out. You help them design their house or plan the most important day of their lives. Frankly, when you spend that much time with anyone, it’s easy to become friends.
But you need to know where to draw the line. Your clients have hired you to do a job:
- While there’s nothing wrong with giving a client your cell phone number, you should also give them guidelines on when they should use it. Keep phone conversations professional.
- Event planners are sometimes encouraged to join their clients for a meal or a drink on the big day, as a thank-you. Don’t. Your clients are there to enjoy themselves… You’re there to work.
- Avoid becoming friends with your clients on social media. You should have a professional page for your business as we discussed above, and your clients are surely encouraged to join your network. But when it comes to your own personal profile, keep that for your friends and family.
DO: Your homework
This is especially important if you’re networking with other professionals or interviewing for a job. You want to make sure you have enough background information to lead a conversation and ask intelligent questions!
- Research the individual or the company ahead of time on their website and social media.
- Take notes and memorize a few interesting facts about them or their business that you can use if the conversation grows stale.
- Come up with a few questions you’d like to ask, before you even meet. This will show that you’re serious about the opportunity, whether it’s a new business relationship or a new job.
DON’T: Give Up!
Mistakes happen, and that’s how we learn! A lack of professionalism can lead to a lost opportunity, but as long as you learn not to make the same mistake twice, you’ll be ahead of the game!