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If you want to be a pro, act like a pro

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How a small business or start up is perceived is important.  New or small businesses can sometimes struggle to compete with larger or more established outfits for a number of reasons.  It’s important to take whatever steps you can to enable you to compete and network on the same level.  You don’t want seem like you’re peering round the corner to see what the cool kids are up to.  You want to walk up and fit right in.

Visibly operating in a professional manner will help immensely with this.  Firstly, be confident when you’re talking about what you do, use phrases like “I will do that” not “I’ll try to do that” or “I think I can do that”, your customers need to trust that you are more than capable of doing the job.   That said, you should always be open and honest when you are offering an opinion, this will reinforce that you are an expert and ensures that your integrity remains intact.  Always have your goals clearly mapped out so that you never fail to explain who you are, what you do and why, that way you’re never caught off guard.  It’s also a good idea get into the habit of concentrating on what the people that you are dealing with actually need.  This is the basis for being able to develop your perception skills so that you can anticipate solutions to possible problems, again adding to your overall effectiveness.

Having the right website has a huge impact on the image of your business, as you know from our previous blogs.  Having good quality photographs or graphics is key for grabbing attention and creating immediately positive impressions.  It’s also important to back that up with other small things that add to your professionalism and ultimately the confidence you instil in potential clients.  This includes business cards and dedicated phone numbers and email addresses – it makes a much better impression to have your business name rather than something like @hotmail to give out to customers or when you’re networking.

Depending on what type of business you are in a uniform can be a significant step in portraying professionalism, simply sticking to a colour scheme or having your logo on your t-shirt you can build a positive reputation for your company.  This also applies to your workplace, whether that’s your home, a restaurant you meet in, or an office.

There are lots of things to think about and first impressions count so remember to layer up elements of your image as and when you can afford them.  For example, hold music; playing music while someone is on hold is part of good customer service but it has other benefits too.  The variety of music needs to be an appropriate fit for your business, so that it enhances your image.  You can make good use of hold time by including small informative pieces, don’t go with the “your call is important…” type stuff that bores or annoys most people. Instead, you should share information about new products or your range of services.  The time will pass quicker for your customer and you have the chance to promote to a temporarily captive audience.

You believe in yourself enough to enter into the world of business, but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and make sure you portray that belief and make it infectious.  It’s good to be humble, but don’t be meek.  Stop peering round the corner; come on in and get noticed.

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