4 Easy and Practical Ways To Stand Out As A Professional

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When you think of a professional, what do you think about? Does the person who pops into your mind have a suit on? Do they have a clean shaven face? What about someone who has wrinkled clothes? Is that person running behind to your meeting?

I graduated with a degree in Marketing from UCF and I loved attending. The school was huge, I met a new person each day and I learned a lot. But, the one thing that UCF didn’t teach me was how it was being in the business world. The real-life business world. Sure, I learned about marketing, and statistics (ew) but I didn’t learn about the real, outside world.

I’ll never forget this story. In one of my classes the teacher told us on the first day, “If you’re late don’t even bother coming into my classroom.” A couple weeks into the semester, of course, there was that “one guy.” He came into the classroom a minute, yes one minute after class started. He went to sit down and she looked at him and said, “What are you doing?” He said, “Well the bus was late and so I was late getting here.” She then firmly told him to leave the classroom. He asked her why and she reverted to her rule on the first day, “Don’t bother coming into my classroom if you’re late.” He didn’t argue further for sake of embarrassment and got up and left.03

That was a lesson I learned very quickly and so did the rest of the class. But do you know what I thought I learned from that lesson? I thought I learned that everyone in the business world was on time. I thought that that’s what it was like ‘in the real world.’ Boy was I wrong!!

Be On Time

Even though this sounds silly and as my above story represented, I thought the whole world was on time. News flash (and something I learned quickly) the world is late. It’s always late. Actually, it’s not an ‘It’s always late’ it’s an ‘he or she’s always late.’ When I got my first job out of college, people would call on me to sell me something and they’d be 10 or 15 minutes late. I would get so irritated with them and would write them off before they even started talking. I was the Director of Marketing for a large 10-office dermatology group and EVERY one of the reps for medical apps, websites and products would want to speak with me. But, if they were late they already started out on the wrong foot.

Fast forward to now, I’m the owner of my marketing agency and now on the other side of the selling table. If I’m late to an appointment I start sweating, seeing how many yellow lights I can run and I even turn off the radio so ‘I can concentrate more.’ (LOL).

Being on time doesn’t take talent or expertise it takes commitment. You need to commit to being on time or early. The person has set aside their time to meet with you, so you need to honor that. By being on time always, you set yourself apart from others in your field and you make a positive first impression.

Look The Part

At my old job, I had an assistant. But, she was then promoted and I needed to look for another one. I put out job postings on a website called ZipRecruiter that helped me hit multiple job sites instead of posting to one at a time. If you’re in a hiring role, I HIGHLY suggest the site. I got applications and called for interviews. Half of the people didn’t even bother to show up which blew my mind, but the other 30% didn’t even look the part.

One lady showed up with a topknot and disheveled clothing. She looked like she rolled out of bed. Another one showed up in jeans… yes, jeans. I do interview now and I had one girl who took the cake. Believe it or not, she showed up in yoga pants. Yep, black yoga pants. It was for a part-time marketing coordinator position and she showed up like that. That’s the one that will NEVER leave my mind… and it wasn’t a good thing that she was stuck in my memories. Yoga pants for crying out loud!

Once again, looking the part isn’t hard and doesn’t require much effort. If you’re applying for a job or if you’re going to a sales call, your image matters. Despite what people say according to this article, people make a judgment call on you within a tenth of a second. If they’re making a call on you this soon, you need all the help you can get because you know you can’t speak an entire sentence to explain yourself in that amount of time.

Be Prepared

I was sent a referral from someone working with one of my clients. He was a videographer and did great work. I didn’t research the client he sent me and he did warn me about him ahead of time. He said he was to the point and a little crazy.

When the client walked in he said something about the smell of my office. I thought, “Not a great way to start… and what smell!?” We went in and sat down and I asked him about himself.

In a huff, he said, “I’m not here to tell you about myself, I’m here to tell you about what I need from you. I thought Jeff (person who referred him to me) would have told you that already!?”

I then told him, “Well, he told me a little about you but I always like to ask the client what and how they’d describe their product or service.”

He looked at me and after a little bit told me I wasn’t a good fit for him because I didn’t know a lot of information about it. In my defense, this was probably the best thing that could have happened because he was very to the point (as he had mentioned) but he was also rude. He probably wouldn’t have been my ‘ideal’ client to work with. But, in his defense, I hadn’t done all of my homework. Yes, I’d looked over his Facebook page and gleaned the general idea of what he did, but I didn’t know the details.

This was a lesson learned for me. I wasn’t upset about losing him but I did learn that next time I needed to look into a little more about what the clients do. I learned this the hard way and now when I go to a new meeting, I make sure to research and look over what they have with purpose and intensity.

Follow Up

When I first started my business I read a book, How To Become A RainMaker. This book was recommended, actually, it was required, by the same professor I mentioned above who wouldn’t let you into the class. In college, I just skimmed through it, but after college, when I started my own business, I found it essential.

It is a little old school, however, one thing I read in it was “The art of the follow-up.” Many people in sales don’t use this to their advantage. Following up with people is usually what makes a sale. Here’s how it has helped me.

A client was referred to me who had a very interesting business. He wanted to do a RedBull-type show with airplanes. He was located about 45 minutes from me and I went over to see him. We had a great meeting, established a budget and then I never heard back from him. He dropped off the face of the planet for about two months. Finally, I called him and he answered. “Yes, I still haven’t forgotten about you, we’re just getting our funding in order.”

“Okay,” I said. “When should I call again to check in?” He told me to call in about two weeks and I did.

Let’s get this timeline so you understand here. My first meeting with him was October 2015. I sent him a proposal in November 2015 and finally, after about 15 follow-ups, got another meeting with him in July 2016. We sat down and ran the budget and numbers again and he said he was on board.

That is a real story of a client. I’ve also had others that have taken four to five months to get back with me too. If I just gave up after the third or fourth time, I wouldn’t have them as clients.

In order to do this effectively, you need to be organized. I have a list that I send emails to once a month to follow up with them. I also have a ‘hot’ list that I send emails out more frequently to check in to see where they stand.

When you look back at everything mentioned above, it’s not rocket science and it’s not hard. It just takes time and dedication to make these things work and to stick with them. If you think about it, you probably spend more time on social media than you do implementing one of these things above. Once you implement them and integrate them into your routine, success will follow.

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