Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Genuine professionalism rocks.

Our reputations relating to professionalism are built over time, sometimes through the smallest of gestures. When it comes to collaborative relationships, referrals in the community, and recommendations for promotions or future business opportunities, professionalism matters…. a lot.

From feedback I’ve received over the years while working with clients and/or colleagues, and from my own observations and experiences, here are just a few small but significant gestures or actions that will contribute greatly to one’s reputation for professionalism:

– Treat people with a genuine service attitude. Make it your business to periodically serve without expectations for reciprocity.
– Say thank you or offer a gesture of appreciation for those that support you in your work, whether they are a small or major source of support.
– Treat your responsibilities in a volunteer position the same way you would treat responsibilities in a paid job.
– Respond promptly to emails from colleagues or professionals that are seeking or providing information, or following up with you, particularly if you’ve had prior conversations, collaborations or meetings of any kind.
– When you’re meeting someone for the first time and they walk into a room specifically to meet with you, greet them by standing and offering a solid and welcoming handshake.
– When providing constructive feedback to someone, meet with the person one-on-one versus within earshot of others. And then keep the exchange to yourself.
– Maintain the esteem of those you work with—or for—whether you’re in front of them or talking about them in another room.
– Keep confidential information confidential.
– Listen.
– If you’ve engaged someone—either internally or externally—to provide a proposal for services or a recommendation and you choose against it, offer the courtesy of a “No, thank you.”

Relating to this last bullet, I recently had a positive experience with a prospect who did not choose to work with me, but who I felt served as a great role model for professionalism. This prospect invited me to respond to a Request for Proposal for an organization where she sat on the Board. She offered to talk with me by phone before I made the decision to submit a proposal, and then followed through to schedule that call promptly when I took her up on her offer. She kept me informed via email promptly when the timing of the decision-making shifted a bit. She called me to let me know that I was one of 2 remaining candidates and invited me into an additional meeting. When I emailed a quick confirmation the day before the meeting, she responded with a thank you and a quick note to confirm. The day after we met, she called me and not only offered me very positive feedback about her experience with me, but also offered the specific reason behind their choice to work with a different vendor—which by the way, made perfect sense to me. I so appreciated this person’s responsiveness and professionalism throughout the proposal process. As a result of our brief relationship if her name or an opportunity came up for her, I’m one more person in our business community who wouldn’t hesitate to vouch for her top-notch professionalism, her integrity, and her ability to communicate and collaborate effectively.

Professionalism rocks.



  David Pandina wrote @

Donna you are so right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to estimate a job and the customer tells me none of the other candidates showed up for the appointment or bothered to call. I got the job just by showing up.

  donnarawadyblog wrote @

Thanks for your comment, Dave. It is hard to understand for those of us who are service-oriented. I’m sure you’re getting most jobs for more than just showing up 🙂 Wishing you continued success and enjoyment on the job.

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