By Sharon Rector

“Don’t ever feel that you are the only one to ever have done something silly or said something crazy. We all do it! Yours truly… especially!

I had not ever had any kind of experience in an office environment, when I accepted my first secretarial position. It was very new to me, and I was just a kid fresh out of business college trying to make it in the “real world.” During my first week on the job, I made many, many mistakes. I would fill my trash can every day with mistakes! One of the bosses noticed my trash can one day and told me that at the end of every day, they had someone go through everyone’s trash and make notes of all the mistakes they found there. He said they would deduct pay from your paycheck according to the number of mistakes that were found.

Naive as I was, I believed him! I carried my trash home for a week before I found out he was just ‘pulling my leg.’    Yoli”

Over the course of this year, we are going to concentrate on the varying aspects of the term “professional presence.”  Get familiar with the essence of the term so that you are knowledgeable of what it is, how you attain it, and how you maintain it throughout your chosen career path.  get-attachment-2.aspx

What does the term “professional presence” mean?  According to the dictionary, professional presence refers to a dynamic blend of poise, self-confidence, self-control, and style that enables a person to command respect in any situation—especially on your new job.

Professional presence includes how you appear physically, how you dress for work, the tone of your voice, facial expressions, and even your handshake. It entails how you communicate with others and how you behave in the midst of problems and issues.

In the article “Developing a Professional Presence,” it is reiterated that once a professional presence is acquired, it will permit one to project a confidence that others can quickly perceive the first time you meet.  And to project confidence, you must feel confidence.

The article also highlights that though one may present excellent credentials, a boss is more likely to choose (out of possible candidates) the one who has style as well as substance.

Let’s imagine that you have just been through a grueling panel interview conducted by individuals who really have no perception of get-attachment-1.aspxYOU — the real you; what you know and what you don’t know!  How do you survive the interview?  Once hired, how do you maintain your confidence and poise on the job?  Let’s take a look at some strategies that may help you during this period.

Strategy Number 1:  (This is my personal favorite).  Say that you have been hired.  Hooray!  Great job!  Now how do you proceed?  My advice is to tread lightly.  Never get too personal too quickly with those who will be your fellow workers.  Your inner-most aspects of your life, at this moment, are just that— personal!  Your primary function on your new job is not to make friends, but to showcase to your employer the skills, knowledge, and talents you highlighted during your interview.

Your employer is operating a business, not a social club!  According to Author Helen Wilkie in “How Do You Develop Professional Presence?” she clearly states that you do want to develop and cultivate a respectful relationship with your peers, those above you on the organizational level, those below you, or the clients. Show that you can get along with others by exuding the best of you!  But never forget that people do spread gossip and untruths and unpleasant rumors about their colleagues.    In your professional life, it is probably better to maintain your credibility by showing that you are trustworthy and your ability to rise above the fray.

Strategy Number 2:  Realize and accept the fact that if you don’t know, you just don’t know!  Always be upfront with your employer get-attachment.aspxabout mistakes or your need to take time and research problems you have to tackle.  By doing so, this will show your employer that you have initiative and pride in your work.

Never proceed on a project attempting to muddle your way through your work.  Although it is your responsibility to acknowledge your skills and talent, there is no shame in declaring you have hit a road block temporarily!  Admit your mistake and maintain your confidence and composure establishing with your employer that you have worth and value to the organization and that you intend to prove it!

Strategy Number 3:    Finally, whatever you do, stay disciplined!  Maintain your confidence and competence as you are now in the process of “image building!”   You are establishing for yourself and those who work around you your brand.

Image is a term that could be defined as establishing your qualities, competence, and attitude; everything that is inherent to you, but it is also the picture that people around you will remember.

Helen Wilkie in “How Do You Develop a Professional Prescience” believes that you need to cultivate a reputation for doing things well, getting your work done correctly and completely on time, and getting along well with others.  It is that professional presence that will be the strongest force in helping you climb the ladder of success.

In closing, let me quote two statements on professional presence.  The first is by David McNally and Karl Speaks.

“Developing a strong personal brand involves all the little ways in which you express your feelings about yourself and present to others.”

~ David McNally & Karl Speak

This last quote is taken from Susan Bixler and Nancy Nix-Rice, authors of “The New Professional Image.”

“Books are judged by their covers, houses are appraised by their curb appeal, and people are initially evaluated on how they choose to dress and behave.  In a perfect world, this is not fair, moral, or just.  What’s inside should count a great deal more.  And eventually it usually does, but not right away…..”


1)  Wilkie, Helen, “How Do You Develop a Professional Presence?”  How Do You Develop a Professional Presence.  28 Apr 2007. Ezinearticles. com 19 Feb. 2013 How-Do-You-Develop-a-Professional-Prescience?&ID=544373


2) NHMRL Text/p52-99 pdf


  1. Total Person Insight. Susan Bixler and Nancy Nix-Rice, “The New Professional Image.” Taken from article “Developing a Professional Presence, NHMRL. pp 53 & 56.


Upcoming Article for Month of April:  Professional Presence:  “Dressing Smart and Dressing the Part”