As a career coach I get countless inquiries and requests to respond to prospects needs for career advice and related topics. Having now worked with several thousand clients I have codified my first impressions by how they approach me with their request to take the next steps. First impressions are important, not just for how I see where a persons head is at, but also how they come across to others when using the same approach in their other interactions. This blog is about the 10 most annoying behaviors (not in any particular order) that can be changed to show your professionalism in all your interactions.
- Make sure your email identity has some logic and a good way to connect with your name. If you are Jim Smith have your email address as Jimsmith@gmail.com, not as lostinSV@gmail.com. Also, sign your email exactly as your full name. So, do not sign your email as Nutsy, your nickname, but as Jim Smith (full name). This way if someone forwards or copies your message they will know whom it is from.
- People will remember you by name, and in todays emails their name will pop up as soon as you tap the first few characters from your memory. So, ensure that when someone wants to send you an email make it easy for them to rely on this facility to get your address right. If your name and email address are disconnected (lostinSV@gmail.com = Jim Smith) the sender has to spend time making that connection. Not good.
- No one has time for long, text-heavy emails with no clear what do I do with this? Have your actions you want the reader to take from your email at the top. Please respond to the following and then have short itemized list of things you want the reader to do. They can then decide whether to read the rest of the long message.
- When leaving a voice mail keep it short and always begin with your coordinates: This is Jim Smith, 510-333-3456. Then end your short message AGAIN with your number to call. With ubiquitous mobile phones, messages get dropped, garbled, or difficult to hear. Often, too, people call from one line and want you to call them back on another. So, even after digging through the number of the original call when numbers get garbled, this does not help. The most frustrating messages are long at the end of which there is an inaudible phone number. Keep them short sandwiched between the call-back number.
- ALWAYS have your voice greeting with your name and a short message. It is annoying when, after deciphering a garbled phone message, you dial the person, whose name is barely audible in your voice mail to you, and you get a robotic greeting: You have reached 555-222-2345. With the ubiquity of mobile devices people often call on the move and they do not remember the number they just dialed, so having a voice greeting with your name assures the caller that they have reached the right person and now they will also know your name, if the original message garbled it. So, do not look too lazy to change your robotic voicemail greeting and replace it with a short named greeting; its the only professional way.
- Call yourself and see how many rings it takes to roll over to voice mail. In the case of one recent contact, who wanted me to call urgently her phone rang 16 times before it rolled over to voice mail. I was tempted to hang up after 10, but decided to see how long it would take. Try to keep the number of rings to three to save time and to prevent callers from hanging up before voice mail kicks in.
- If your voice mail greeting is long and you provide many options as a part of that message, it can save callers time if you give them a prompt to bypass the greeting the next time they call. Say, to bypass the greeting push #.
- On your LinkedIn Profile have your headshot (preferably, not a selfie) that clearly shows your face. I have seen photos of groups of people; someone standing in front of a major monument, which takes most of the space on that photo; picture of their favorite god figures; and even of just their pets (not holding their pet, but their pets headshot). Such images may work on social media such as Facebook, but on LinkedIn; NO!
- Avoid using your job title as your headline on your LinkedIn Profile. Such banal descriptors show a lack of imagination. Brand yourself with your headline and phrase it descriptively enough to make it searchable (you have 120 characters).
- Use the same name in all your identifiers, at least professionally: Your email name must match your LinkedIn Profile name and anywhere else that you want people to locate you professionally. It is annoying when people casually say, Oh, my LinkedIn name is my maiden name and now go by ex-husbands last name as my email identifier, but I use my mothers maiden name on my rsum, since she passed away 10 years ago. Just pick a name and stay with it. Make it consistent throughout ALL your professional identity.
The concept behind streamlining your messaging stems from respecting other peoples time and getting them to respond to your needs. By following these 10 guidelines (and others) you can make yourself appear more professional, which will make it easy for others to respond to you!
Dilip has distinguished himself as LinkedIn’s #1 career coach from among a global pool of over 1,000 peers ever since LinkedIn started ranking them professionally (LinkedIn selected 23 categories of professionals for this ranking and published this ranking from 2006 until 2012). Having worked with over 6,000 clients from all walks of professions and having worked with nearly the entire spectrum of age groups—from high-school graduates about to enter college to those in their 70s, not knowing what to do with their retirement—Dilip has developed a unique approach to bringing meaning to their professional and personal lives. Dilip’s professional success lies in his ability to codify what he has learned in his own varied life (he has changed careers four times and is currently in his fifth) and from those of his clients, and to apply the essence of that learning to each coaching situation.
After getting his B.Tech. (Honors) from IIT-Bombay and Master’s in electrical engineering(MSEE) from Stanford University, Dilip worked at various organizations, starting as an individual contributor and then progressing to head an engineering organization of a division of a high-tech company, with $2B in sales, in California’s Silicon Valley. His current interest in coaching resulted from his career experiences spanning nearly four decades, at four very diverse organizations–and industries, including a major conglomerate in India, and from what it takes to re-invent oneself time and again, especially after a lay-off and with constraints that are beyond your control.
During the 45-plus years since his graduation, Dilip has reinvented himself time and again to explore new career horizons. When he left the corporate world, as head of engineering of a technology company, he started his own technology consulting business, helping high-tech and biotech companies streamline their product development processes. Dilip’s third career was working as a marketing consultant helping Fortune-500 companies dramatically improve their sales, based on a novel concept. It is during this work that Dilip realized that the greatest challenge most corporations face is available leadership resources and effectiveness; too many followers looking up to rudderless leadership.
Dilip then decided to work with corporations helping them understand the leadership process and how to increase leadership effectiveness at every level. Soon afterwards, when the job-market tanked in Silicon Valley in 2001, Dilip changed his career track yet again and decided to work initially with many high-tech refugees, who wanted expert guidance in their reinvention and reemployment. Quickly, Dilip expanded his practice to help professionals from all walks of life.
Now in his fifth career, Dilip works with professionals in the Silicon Valley and around the world helping with reinvention to get their dream jobs or vocations. As a career counselor and life coach, Dilip’s focus has been career transitions for professionals at all levels and engaging them in a purposeful pursuit. Working with them, he has developed many groundbreaking approaches to career transition that are now published in five books, his weekly blogs, and hundreds of articles. He has worked with those looking for a change in their careers–re-invention–and jobs at levels ranging from CEOs to hospital orderlies. He has developed numerous seminars and workshops to complement his individual coaching for helping others with making career and life transitions.
Dilip’s central theme in his practice is to help clients discover their latent genius and then build a value proposition around it to articulate a strong verbal brand.
Throughout this journey, Dilip has come up with many groundbreaking practices such as an Inductive Résumé and the Genius Extraction Tool. Dilip owns two patents, has two publications in the Harvard Business Review and has led a CEO roundtable for Chief Executive on Customer Loyalty. Both Amazon and B&N list numerous reviews on his five books. Dilip is also listed in Who’s Who, has appeared several times on CNN Headline News/Comcast Local Edition, as well as in the San Francisco Chronicle in its career columns. Dilip is a contributing writer to several publications. Dilip is a sought-after speaker at public and private forums on jobs, careers, leadership challenges, and how to be an effective leader.
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