I’m not sure how I learned these things. It wasn’t in college or at a special seminar. Maybe it was from bosses early on or colleagues and friends. From what I see happening now, I’m not sure the new generation hasn’t gradually lost out on some of these guidelines.
Yeah, I know each older generation thinks the ones that follow don’t seem to employ the same considerations and protocols.
So, here’s a recap of those things you can follow or pass on to be seen as a “professional.” It doesn’t matter what field of endeavor you pursue. Doctor, lawyer, candlestick maker (very old expression), a professional is a professional.
1. Show up on time—legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, who made one of the very first motivational films called “Second Effort,” included this in his advice: “To be on time, set your schedule to be at least 10 minutes early.” If you’re late, you have collectively wasted the time of everyone you’re meeting with.
2. Send “thank you” notes (or emails) for anything and everything you can think of—for an interview, a meeting, a conversation.3.
3. When you send a letter, whether it’s a form or personal letter, make sure you sign it. I can’t tell you how many unsigned letters I get.
4. When someone you know calls or emails, either respond immediately or let them know when you will. By the way, it takes less time to return a call than initiate one.
5. When you produce a memo or a document of any kind, make sure there is a date at the beginning or the end. If it’s multiple pages, make sure they’re numbered.
6. Meet deadlines—it’s the same as being on time. When you agree to do something or be somewhere, DO IT. Meet the deadline, or advise that you can’t and when you will.
7. If you’re swamped or in over your head, ask for help. Do not sit on the problem hoping you can hatch a miracle to resolve your dilemma. Seek assistance early. Don’t wait until the deadline is on top of you or past.
8. Set priorities each day, each week, so you can manage your time. Don’t let your tasks overwhelm you.
9. Don’t leave “widows” at the bottom of columns or pages; i.e., if you have a list of names and addresses, be sure it’s all in one column or on one page.
10. Whether meetings are by phone or in person, plan for them. Have an agenda that is short and to the point. Meetings generously are shorter when held in the morning.
11. Get organized. Have a clean desk at least once a day. Use file folders (or on the computer) use a master book (8-1/2” x 11” 3-ring binders) to track all elements of a big project, with dividers of course.
12. Have a calendar on your computer, ipad or iphone, and always have a pen handy.
13. When you leave a phone message, be brief, talk slowly and try to annunciate clearly.
14. Do not chew gum when talking to customers, clients or colleagues—NEVER!
Your image will come across as a professional when you follow these guidelines and you will accomplish more.