Whenever someone comes to the house, our dog Jake takes on the persona of a neglected pet in desperate need of food and attention. It’s laughable because we dote on him like a baby. But from his perspective, the sky’s the limit when it comes to feeding and petting him, so when guests arrive, Jake assumes the role of a poor little beggar and goes to work on our guests.
When I go to work, I take on a persona as well – the persona of an experienced business consultant. For me, this means coming across as capable, approachable, and articulate, among other things. So I make every effort to pull myself together as such, from what I say to how I look.
For those of you who are just starting your career, you may be thinking, “Do I really need a business persona? Why can’t I just be myself?” You can and should be yourself at work – just the professional version of yourself. Your business persona is how you want to be perceived at work as conveyed through your attitude, words, actions, mannerisms, and appearance. For example, being humble, respectful, upbeat, friendly, and engaged is a business persona that always seems to make the right impression, especially if you’re a young professional.
Think of your business persona as a suit of armor that both promotes and protects you. Adopting one at work will keep you in a professional frame of mind so that you can consistently put your best foot forward. And when things go sideways at work, you’ll be better prepared to keep your composure and not get overly emotional as you operate in business persona mode.
Sounds like a lot of effort? It can be at first. But with practice and patience, you can develop a business persona that feels right for you, and one day, in Jake-like fashion, it will become second nature.
If you’re interested in more tips for young professionals, please check out my book, Starting Out Smart: The Unwritten Rules for Getting Ahead in Your First Job, on Amazon.