By Zeldi Smulders
People are always talking about how important it is to maintain a professional image in the workplace. But what exactly does it entail?
If you flip through the Pocket Oxford Dictionary, you will find that the word professional is “of the vocations called professions”. Whereas the word image can be described as the “general impression of some person or institution”.
We can then derive from putting the words together that it is about how others perceive you to be in the career you find yourself in. That is as you are the face of a company or your own brand.
However, this concept is made up of several connected parts. As there are many ways to look at it, what do others define it as?
Professional Image Definitions
In an interview between Mallory Stark and Harvard Business School Professor, Laura Morgan Roberts, they discussed the topic of Creating a Positive Professional Image.
Professor Laura Morgan Roberts goes on to define a professional image:
“Your professional image is the set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your key constituents (i.e., clients, superiors, subordinates, colleagues).”
Universal Class, a site that provides continuing education courses online, also has a definition for it in How to Build a Professional Image in Business:
“The professional business image can entail several components that combine to form both how you look in the environment, and how you perform.”
Therefore, it can be the attributes you display to others in the workplace, whether it be habits, appearances, or abilities. Altogether, it is what you give away to other people. These people then take that information to form a perception about you. While the concept is understandable, the real test could be in applying this idea in a real-life work situation.
Professional Image Practices
From doing research, you can find a lot of advice on ways you can put this concept into practice. Tom Ewer writes a blog on Bidsketch (a company who provides professional proposal services and also shares advice to help others gain business) about 6 Ways To Improve Your Professional Image.
He names the six ways as the following:
- Keep Your Social Media Clean
- Keep Your Personal Life Personal
- Create The Right Associations
- Be Positive
- Be Respectful
- Deliver On Your Promises
Next, there is some advice by Virginia Tech on professionalism. This states that you can advance your professional image through your demeanour and the clothes you wear, which should be suitable for your company and your line of work.
In addition, this is such an important matter that professionals want to expand their knowledge of it. One such case can be seen on LinkedIn, a platform used to manage your professional life, who has a course on Developing Your Professional Image. In this course, the focus is on facets like understanding variations in the workplace and adjusting to the surroundings.
We can conclude that there are many aspects of a professional image. Together with that, there are various ways to put it into practice. From the way you dress to the way you behave, to how you use your skills. All in all, it is a continuous process of self-development on a professional level that will help you get along in the workplace.
What does a professional image mean to you? Let us know in the comment section below.
More on PROFession
Do you want to find out more about how PROFession can help you with workplace challenges? Read more on What You Need To Know About PROFession.