Be Professional: How to grow profits and your career by being referable

Shannon Vincent

Shannon Vincent

I have the privilege of working with firms and people from many different areas of the country with extremely diverse backgrounds.   I often get the question, “Would you refer me to a prospect?  How do I advance my career?”

When I receive these questions the things that float through my mind are, “What would it say about me if I attached my name to this firm or person?”  Put another way, is this firm or professional referable.  Unfortunately, in some cases the answer is no.

Here is my list of absolute musts if you or your firm wants to be referable:

  • Dress Professionally.  There has been a lot written about professional dress and dress for success so I want go into excruciating detail.  Here are a few “no go’s” when it comes to dressing professionally.  No jeans, tennis shoes or fleece.  If you work in a professional service firm dress the part.  The reality is people judge a book by its cover.
  • Use Proper Language.  Simply put, don’t use profanity or juvenile slang.  It’s a sign of ignorance.
  • Talk Sports, Religion or Politics in a respectful manner.  I believe it’s important to be oneself and certainly to never compromise your own values or beliefs.  However, do it respectfully.  America is a diverse place.  Be respectful and remember not everyone sees the world through your world view.
  • Show Up On Time Every Time.  It exudes unprofessionalism to show up late for a meeting or a conference call.   Plan for the unexpected.
  • Do Your Homework. Know who, what, where, when and why before you show up to a meeting or appointment.  Have your paperwork organized, phone turned off and be focused.
  • Know Your Desired Outcome/Objective of every week, interaction.  Act with intention.  Go into every week, day, project and meeting with a goal for that phase/step/meeting.
  • Bring an Agenda and Agree Upon it for Every Meeting.  Face it, we are short on time.  Don’t go to a meeting unless there’s an agenda and purpose of the meeting.
  • Create Annual, 3 Year and 10 Year Goals.  Most people aim at nothing at hit it with amazing accuracy.  It’s critical as a professional to have objectives.
  • Respond to all communications (email, voicemail, text) within 24 hours.  Even if you can’t give the answer, provide an adequate response or schedule the meeting you need to at least acknowledge the request.  I see this as a HUGE issue with being referable.  I would never a firm or person that isn’t “on it” when it comes to communication turn around.  Being a Professional is not an 8 to 5 job.
  • Learn Something New Every Quarter.  Whether you want to learn how to play chess, tennis or more about Forensic Accounting as a professional you need to be learning something new every quarter.
  • Stay Connected.  Every month try to have lunch with someone who is in the same role as you but is in what you consider a better position than you are (power, money, peace of mind. Whatever it is).

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