This is part of a series where Iâ€™ll introduce 10 points of a creed, and comment on them. The series is summarized as we go (see bottom of post) and you can link back to the commentary on any of the 10 in that summary.
I’ve been excited to do this one for quite a while because its always been a favorite of mine. In my own networking and professional life I’ve seen people from one end of the spectrum to another, and number nine wraps it up quite nicely:
9. I will exude credibility, confidence and expertise, and use a professional voice, grooming and handshake at all times.
One definition of exude is “to exhibit in abundance.” Have you ever had to shake hands and it felt like you were shaking a dead fish? Bleh! There are variations of the dead-fish handshake, all of them are, well, gross. And there’s no place for them – not when meeting a client, not when greeting a vendor, and certainly not in an interview! The only thing a dead fish exudes is, well, aside from the stink, “I haven’t been shaking hands long enough to know how to do it” or “I don’t have any friends or professional acquaintences that care enough about me to tell me how to do it right.” (Special note: if you know someone with a dead-fish handshake, do them a favor and have a little 5 minute handshaking lesson!)
“Credibility, confidence and expertise” is basically saying “I can do the job.” Perhaps you can answer interview questions well, and you have a great “me in 30 seconds” pitch (because your storing them in JibberJobber and practicing them, right?), but what is your body language and dress saying? Can you imagine Donald Trump in an interview with bad body language? How about a politician, or one of those famous CEOs that we all know and love?
What you have to do is figure out how to exude confidence without looking uncomfortable, unnatural or over-doing it. Some people have this down really nicely. I remember a guy I hired as an intern programmer who looked like a CEO – he had the dress, the voice, the eye-contact, the right enthusiasm, everything. It was an amazing skill he had.
If you are unsure of yourself there are two things I recommend. First, watch others that you admire, hang out with them (especially in social settings), and try and learn from them. This is especially critical for people that didn’t get this kind of training or exposure growing up. Second, practice! Shake lots of hands, dress like a professional, and pay attention more than usual to the non-verbal messages that you are sending.
The last part, “at all times,” is a great one. You never know when you are being watched, or who is watching you. When I was a hiring manager I was always on the lookout for someone that impressed me. I was always building my team in my mind, trying to figure out who I would want working with me. I know quite a few managers and executives who also do this – they understand that having the right person on the bus (as Jim Collins would say) is the key, and they are always looking for that next “right person.”
So be polite in the grocery store, watch your language on the street (do I even have to say “don’t spit in public?”), and put that smile on. Let this confidence exude from you – not only will it impress others around you and show that you are a capable person – but in a long job search you need all of the confidence you can get (even if its self-generated).
- I will get a job coach (not my spouse) to hold me accountable for my job search efforts. I will encourange him or her to be honest and indicate that feedback is the greatest gift that I could receive. I will ask for at least weekly contact. (read the post here)
- I will network for contacts, opportunities and more market knowledge; making at least 10 networking contacts each day and working towards at least 10 interviews each week; with at least five of those with decision makers. (read the post here)
- I will attend the Professional Career Workshop and attend at least one Professional Networking Group each week. (read the post here)
- I will define and continually refine my professional brand and unique value-added proposition. (read the post here)
- I will identify and understand the needs of my target market – looking for industry gaps, problems and trends – and will target my best prospects within that market. I will do the same for each target company I am pursuing. (read the post here)
- I will understand and will be able to discuss my leadership style. (read the post here)
- I will do the homework needed to develop my own unique value-added proposition(s) (to be presented in less than 90 seconds) that are based on the companyâ€™s needs and my own talent, skills and abilities. (read the post here)
- I will initiate and proactively pursue activities that will put me on the â€˜radar screenâ€™ within my industry and with my targeted companies – such as joining and interacting with targeted professional associations and community service groups, and working to get top-level leaders within my targeted industry to know me and know of me. (read the post here)
- I will exude credibility, confidence and expertise, and use a professional voice, grooming and handshake at all times.
- (havenâ€™t done yet)
(picture credit: Jerry Hocutt’s blog (Foot-in-the-Door) – thanks Jerry!)