For superheroes, getting into professional mode is as easy as slapping on some spandex, a mask and a cape. For the everyday entrepreneur or corporate leader, however, the proper work mindset is less about attire and more about adopting a professional persona. Your professional persona is your personal branding in the workplace. It refers to the way that you conduct yourself publicly in a business setting, and the image you project to coworkers and colleagues. Far from contrived or inauthentic, it’s simply the polished-up way that you present yourself professionally. Here’s Timothy Sykes, take on professional persona, writing here for Entrepreneur.com
How do I develop a professional persona?
It’s actually extremely easy to develop a professional persona. All you have to decide is who you want to be in the workplace, and then take efforts with your attitude, dress, and conduct to become that version of yourself. Action follows intention, and over time, you’ll find that adopting your professional persona feels as natural as putting on your coat before leaving the house.
Now that you understand what a professional persona is, let’s talk about why you should work on cultivating one and what you stand to gain.
Create a self fulfilling prophecy.
Success is typically hard-earned and slow in the making. However, if you take the time to develop a professional persona, it can help bring success sooner. If you conduct yourself casually and informally in the workplace, you’re less likely to be taken seriously and might spend far longer in the career trenches.
But if you make a concerted effort to conduct yourself with the professionalism of a manager or CEO, you’ll make yourself a more desirable candidate for advancement. Since you’ve already demonstrated the appropriate attitude for higher level positions, you’re more likely to be thought of when opportunities arise.
Focus on what’s important.
When you establish a professional persona, you put yourself in the right state of mind for work. This can help you attain your career goals.
Say, for instance, that one of your big career goals is to become a leading authority in your field so that you can become the next TED Talk celebrity. With this specific goal in mind, you can tailor your professional persona so that it can help advance you toward this goal. For instance, you might begin speaking at local networking events or starting a topical podcast. Doing things like this will help you establish a professional persona of being an expert in your niche.
Make yourself indispensable.
One of the best ways to create job security is to make yourself indispensable in your position. A professional persona can help by letting you establish recognizable and dependable hallmarks in your working style.
For instance, perhaps part of your persona is that you are the person who always meets his or her deadlines on time. In time, this will become part of your professional identity and will be part of how people see you in your office or field. When others know and trust that they can depend on you, you’ll make yourself indispensable. Over time, this can have a powerful and positive effect on your career.
Be taken more seriously.
A casual attitude is fine when you’re hanging out with friends. But in a professional setting, it may be holding you back. When you present yourself with a more polished professional persona in work settings, you’ll be taken more seriously. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at work, of course. But it does mean that you should conduct yourself with an air of professionalism and should never engage in bad habits like gossip or use language that might come back to haunt you later.
Remember: you get what you give. When you act respectfully in the workplace, you’re more likely to be treated with the same respect.
You’ll get more followers.
More and more, entrepreneurs are using social media to attain a higher professional status or to attract more business.
When you take the time to develop a professional persona, you adopt a personal style, a way of articulating, and potentially even an aesthetic. These things add up to more clear and compelling personal/professional branding. This can help you maintain a consistency on social media platforms that makes your posts recognizable. Over time, this can lead to additional followers, which can mean more opportunities for selling, career advancement, and more.
Develop a thicker skin.
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t take things personally in the professional sphere. But anyone who has ever experienced rejection or criticism in their career knows that this is much easier said than done.
Your professional persona can help give you some personal armor. When you have a professional persona, it can be easier to separate your personal life from your work to a greater degree. No, this doesn’t mean that you won’t feel any pain when things go wrong, but it will allow you to compartmentalize in a positive way, so that an issue at work doesn’t impact your personal life quite as much.