What does it mean to be a professional? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace;” and it defines businesslike as “serious, purposeful.” (Merriam Webster)
Personally, I believe that a professional must be knowledgeable in their field and corporation. They should be able to explain what it is exactly that they do, in addition to being able to predict where they see the company going based on their experience. While professionals should have a multitude of knowledge, they should still continue to learn about the field they work in. Technology is constantly evolving, so a professional must be able to adapt with those changing times.
A business professional must be able to dress for the occasion. Whether it may be an interview, a business call, or a luncheon, a true professional will take the time to research the event and the appropriate attire to attend the event. Professional appearance includes personal hygiene and posture. While the clothes may fit the occasion, if a person has bad hygiene and posture then the attempt is futile. Table manners may seem minimal, but potential employers and network connections observe even the smallest gestures.
It is impossible to please everyone in a situation, so it is necessary to have the ability to read the room. Ask questions and gauge the reactions, if the crowd seems interested then expand on the topic; if the audience seems on edge, then it may be best to branch into a new category. Respect is a necessity in the professional world. Communication is meaningless if the recipient takes offense to the topic being discussed.
A professional should take responsibility for their actions. If they make a mistake, they should own it and learn from it. Adaptability is a key component in the business industry. A flexible personality will help finish the job in a timely manner while ensuring it is done correctly.
Most importantly, a professional should be genuine. They should make eye contact when they smile and exude confidence, even if they don’t necessarily feel that way. They should be able to say what they mean without rambling and take the initiative in a conversation. A professional must step out of their comfort zone when engaging with others by using proper language and articulation.
All in all, a professional must be able to adapt to each situation while still remaining true to them self. They should maintain businesslike appearance while still incorporating parts of themselves, so they aren’t lost in the transition from personal to business. Getting an unnoticeable ear-piercing or hidden tattoo is a fantastic way to remain true to character without disrespecting the workplace or the industry.