There is something refreshing about talking to someone and feeling like you are talking to that person and not just a professional facade they put up. Yes, it is important to allow yourself to show professionalism in your personal presentation of yourself, it does not mean you have to be two different people.
The best approach I have always stood by is to be yourself when meeting with potential business partners or customers at your business. Most people can tell whether you are putting up a front or being genuine–and the latter tends to get you a better outcome.
I (Sarah) remember instances where I was dressed in a blazer, nice pants, professional shoes, the works. The conversations started, we are talking business and then all of a sudden someone creeps to the side and says “Is that a tattoo?” Alas, I scramble to put hair over it, but oblige and say “Yes, it’s a tattoo,” because I can’t lie at that point. The next statement always kills me “Is that the Deathly Hallows symbol from Harry Potter?” My eyes light up and the conversation really begins. We are both Harry Potter fans, we are being real and genuine right now, and with professionalism still playing a role, we are now being ourselves–tattoos and all.
Another instance I can remember includes an internship interview in college. I had everything all professionally ready–my clothes, portfolio, etc. But, I decided to wear a pair of funky red shoes to jazz up my outfit instead of tried and true black flats. Some would call this risky, but I am a little bit of a free spirit–and my shoes addressed this. During the interview, everything was going well and at the conclusion of it, we stood up to say goodbye and shake hands. The hiring manager looked down, and I stood still and looked nervous. “Oh no, she noticed my risky pair of shoes,” but I got a bubbly “I love those shoes!” reply. A week later, I got an email stating I was chosen as the intern and where I got those shoes from. I put a little bit of myself out there and she enjoyed it.
I know that I may just have been lucky and maybe other factors may have come into play with the fact that they overlooked minor details and still chose me to work with, but I do feel like being myself allowed them to see me as both a professional and also someone they can sit and chat with over coffee during lunch or at our desks. You want to feel comfortable with the people you work with, so don’t pretend to be someone else because that act can only last for so long.
Do you feel being yourself is a good business trait? Let us know!
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