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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > What You Need: Presenting Yourself Well — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

What You Need: Presenting Yourself Well — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

November 27th, 2012

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With this column I am starting an ongoing series entitled, “What You Need.” These columns will highlight what I consider the fundamental foundations of any career. These foundations often deal with the, so-called, “softer” side of jobs, work and careers, but I have always considered this the most important part of any career. These foundations are the underpinnings of everything else that you do in your career and without tending to them you put yourself at a severe disadvantage.



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In this first column of the series, I discuss the importance of how you present yourself to others. Whenever you are looking for a job, spending your time networking with peers and others or just mingling with friends and family, how you present yourself is of fundamental importance. As humans we use first impressions as a strong indicator of the who, what and why of a person. It isn’t always accurate — and it isn’t always fair — but it is a fact of human nature of which you must be aware. First impressions can be overcome, but it is always better to start out on the right foot instead of having to repair something that shouldn’t have been broken in the first place.

Demeanor

Perhaps it is my training (and love) of the theater, but I think your demeanor is one of the most important parts of presenting yourself well. You should be able to converse with people of all backgrounds easily and comfortably. You shouldn’t fear interacting with others — or even giving public presentations or speeches. I know that many people find this one of the most stressful activities they can undertake, but I have found that being comfortable speaking to — and in front of — people dramatically effects your career. If you need help in this area, I highly suggest you get involved in some theater classes or perhaps join a local Toastmasters group to help you gain some level of comfort speaking in front of others.

You also need to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly to those around you. If you can’t, you are at a great disadvantage. It is so important that I credit my theater experience as probably the single most important factor of success in my career. How do I know this? People tell me so. They praise my ability to “translate” complex technological topics into something the average person can understand. They praise the clarity of what I am saying when I communicate. They praise my personable nature, with many becoming personal friends over the years we have worked together. Certainly I don’t get along with everyone I meet or work with, but I like to think that those people are the minority of my career experience. Take the words of praise from others and acknowledge what you are doing right. Sure, we all have areas that could use improvement, but too often we ignore the praise we receive from others and focus too much on the mistakes.

Treat others as you wish to be treated

No matter who the person might be. No matter what their station in life, their status, their celebrity — or lack thereof, you should treat them as you wish to be treated. Too many people in today’s society seem to think it is acceptable to abuse, ridicule or otherwise dismiss others. You need to carefully guard against this. People are very perceptive and can easily tell when someone sees them as unimportant or ignorant. They might not say anything about it, but if you treat someone badly, they will remember it — for a very long time. Instead of creating enemies — both major and minor — as you go through your life, why not start from the position of equality. Why not treat everyone as you wish to be treated.

Sure, there will be those who don’t reciprocate such behaviors or seek to take advantage of you. It doesn’t matter. You can always start from a position of acceptance, even if you have to change your opinion later. The fact is, though, that treating others well is often the best way of having them reciprocate. It is a rare person who doesn’t meet your acceptance with their own. If they don’t, there is probably some much larger problem of which you are not aware. Even then there is no reason to treat that person badly, although you will probably want to avoid working with them in the future.

Dress

It is my belief that if your clothes are clean and neat, it really doesn’t matter how formal or informal you dress. Sure, you may wish to dress more formally depending on the occasion, but I prefer this to be my choice and not one dictated by others. Take some time to research what looks best on you and what exhibits the most important parts of your personality. What you wear should be a reflection of who you are as much as possible. That said, I firmly believe that your actions and demeanor — what is “inside” of you — are far more important than what you wear on the outside.

Present yourself well. Present yourself clearly. Treat others as you wish to be treated. These fundamental aspects of a well-lived life apply to everything we do and especially our careers. Use them to build the career you deserve.

Look for more columns in this “What You Need” series in the coming weeks.

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Next in the What Your Need series:

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