Man and woman in business attire, image used for Manisha Dorawala's blog on how to cultivate professionalism

No matter what industry you work in, you’ll want to develop a professional image that shows you’re serious about your job and are a responsible individual. Mastering professionalism is particularly important to younger professionals, who haven’t gotten much experience in their industry and need to rely on how they first present themselves when it comes to landing a job or internship. Learn some tips to cultivating professionalism in your career and you’ll see the positive changes!

Engage in active listening

A huge mistake people make is talking too much, which is definitely a mistake if you aren’t completely sure what you’re talking about. At work, you certainly need to speak up if you have ideas or suggestions, but it’s also vital that you learn how to listen to other people. Instead of monopolizing a conversation, give others a chance to offer their opinion and sincerely listen to what they’re saying, by asking questions and looking at them. If you show that you’re an active and attentive listener, people will respect you and notice your attention to detail.

Learn a new skill

You should never stop learning and this fact is particularly important when it comes to your career. Take a class online or enroll in one at a local school. Find a topic that pertains to your job (or even one that doesn’t and you’re just interested in it) and teach yourself. With the internet, you can find tutorials and information on nearly anything, so you don’t have an excuse when it comes to finding resources. Consider teaching yourself another language! Any skill you develop can have value in the workplace if you learn how to utilize it correctly.

Examine your online presence

Many people make the mistake of posting every detail of their lives online and never consider how it looks to a potential employer or future coworkers. Make sure what you post online is private or completely appropriate no matter who views it. Quite a few people have lost their jobs over something they’ve posted online, so think before you get into an online argument with someone and never post negative or private information about work on the Internet.

Attend networking events

If you work in a city, it’s almost a certainty that there will be some kind of professional group that regularly hosts networking events. Make an effort to attend these events, at least once a month. It’ll help you to interact with other professionals and make great connections, even if they’re in different industries. Networking is a great tool and you should absolutely use it to cultivate your professional image. Invite other people from work to join you and you’ll create connections with people in your office as well.

Display a positive attitude

While you absolutely do not always have to be perky and upbeat, avoid complaining at work. Never complain about a coworker or your boss to someone you work with and try to keep complaints about your work light and infrequent. If your manager believes you have a negative attitude, you’ll be viewed as less suitable for the job and could miss out on promotions and larger responsibilities.

Always be prepared

Be prepared for work, no matter what you’re doing. If you have a call with a client or a meeting, prepare notes beforehand and think through what you’re going to say. If you have a presentation, practice for a few days ahead of time so you know what you’re going to say and are ready for any questions. Even if you’re having an informal meeting with one other person, jot a few notes and go into the meeting with a clear head and focused mindset.