There are many questions being asked this time of year about what is expected and/or appropriate actions towards professional peers and colleagues during the holidays. Do you give your boss a gift? Is it OK to bring baked goods to the office? Can I bring a date to the office party? How professional should I dress for the company’s holiday party? All these and the many more questions of professional etiquette during the holidays are valid concerns and inquiry, especially for workers who are new to or unsure of the rules of corporate manners.
Along with honing your holiday office savvy this is also the time of the year to polish your professional brand. During the month of December there are more opportunities available for social interactions with co-workers, managers, and your bosses boss than any other time of the year (other than the summer picnic!). It’s also the time when you meet significant others, or introduce your own. It’s a time when polishing your professional brand provides the biggest return on investment: Being know, respected and revered as someone to be called upon when competency is needed.
Your professional brand is not defined as being on your best behavior at all times. Your professional brand is a reflection of you, professionally, presenting your authenticity. In a previous article, Your Professional Brand Pre-During-Post Interview, I spoke of the distinctions of your professional brand:
“Personal and professional branding is not limited to how well you behave during an interaction with a peer, colleague or hiring manager. Presentation is a large part of your branding identity as is consistency in your character. I’ve talked with clients who understood professional brand as being on your best behavior during an interview and/or networking event. Being on your best behavior leans toward performance rather than presentation, whereas presentation comes from preparation of information and character (how you are being in your presentation and conversations regardless of who is in the audience – confident, personable, intelligent, etc.). Both presentation and character make up a good portion of your professional brand.”
When you are presenting your character on an authentic level, people remember you and recognize you later as someone who impressed them. How you present yourself during social interactions with your peers and colleagues during the holidays will be remembered throughout the year. This doesn’t mean you need to be reserved, subdued, or boring. Actually when you’re comfortable with who you are and confident with the quality of your professional brand, then the fun really begins!
Maya Angelou said it best and in the article Breaking Through Network Stigmas I mentioned this as well. “People will not remember what you said or what you did; people will remember how you made them feel.” Your professional branding isn’t what you say about yourself or what you do to present yourself. Your biggest return on the investment you put into developing and polishing your leadership style will occur when you are authentically present, engaged, actively listening and participating with integrity with all the people you interact with socially – be that the janitor up to the president of the company. It really is that simple!