Professionalism is a way of life that displays the potential and capabilities of a person. While the skill is not commonly taught in schools, professionalism is a necessity in the business world. First impressions last a lifetime, and professional impressions in particular are not easily forgotten. In order to maintain professionalism, it is important to define it not just by what it is, but also what it isn’t

Myth: Professionalism is Just in the Attire

A person can have the best clothes on, but the way that they carry themselves and interact with others is the truest testament of character. A professional should be great at the work that they do, always striving to do better, and always be seeking to learn more about their chosen profession. A professional should keep their words and complete the work that they promise others. Professionalism is a mindset, not a fashion trend; companies with casual dress codes can have the same levels of professionalism as white-collar businesses.

Myth: Networking is Only Helpful For Job Hunting

Networking with the proper people is important, but a professional shouldn’t seek to network just for the opportunities that may be available to them. Networking is an activity that a professional completes in order to provide value to others and learn from industry experts. A professional maintains their networks and tries to add value wherever they can. Networking isn’t simply firing off LinkedIn invitations—it’s communication, conversation, and camaraderie. 

Myth: Professionalism is Just Kindness

To a certain extent, the way that a person treat others can show how professional they are, but professionalism is so much more than kindness. Professionals aim to understand the people that they interact with, having conversations and maintaining a level of trust. Additionally, professionals use their understanding to try and assist those people when they are struggling. Manners are important to being a professional, but etiquette is as well. When clients want one thing but you’re suggesting another, the professional thing to do is explain why your plan would see tremendous success. Sometimes, professionalism means making difficult choices or having difficult conversations. Doing so with grace and kindness is just par for the course.

Myth: Professionals Don’t Have to Work Hard

The best professionals are not ones to sit idly by. True professionals do their best to excel in the work that they do. Rather than presenting mediocre work, they present valuable work that exceeds expectations and offers incredible insight into their processes. Professionals work quickly, efficiently, and do their best to submit work well before deadlines. Again, professionalism is a lifestyle based on work ethic and attitude. With the right combination of those, you’re well on your way to finding success and making an impact.