Elevating Your Status From Sub-Trade To Project Professional
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is an old saying that still contains a great deal of truth today. Unfortunately, many members of our industry forget to apply the lesson inherent in this axiom.
If you want to be taken as seriously as the architect or other project professionals, then dress like them.
As ESCs, we are always meeting new people involved in our projects. Every one of these first meetings offers the chance to establish the foundation of a relationship, and the first impression that you create should be the best one possible.
WHAT TO START
There are many ways to polish how you present yourself and your company. The single most important impression is that you are true professional.
I believe that our industry still has a long way to go toward raising the level of professionalism exhibited by the average ESC. The time has come when ESCs must start behaving like the professionals that they are expected to be.
Like it or not, there are certain expectations associated with the term “professional,” and they extend well beyond simply doing something every day and getting a paid for it. Think about the other significant professionals that you encounter on a project. These can include architects and other design professionals, lawyers, engineers, and, for that matter, the clients themselves. These people are often senior executives in their own professions and no doubt have developed a certain set of opinions and expectations around the types of professionals that they choose to hire and engage with. Have you thought about what those expectations might be and how both you and your organization measure up to them?
Are you doing everything you can to present yourself and your firm not just as technology experts but as a serious and reputable business run by experienced professionals? If not, then I strongly recommend taking steps to do just that.
YOUR WEB SITE
If you don’t have a website, then create one. You are promoting yourself as a technology specialist and not having a website sends entirely the wrong message..
If you do have a website, then take a good look at it and consider hiring a professional web designer to update it. Check out the websites of other companies that your clients are likely to visit for luxury automobiles, yachts, fine jewelry, etc. These sites tend to have a very clean and elegant look and present less information, not more. The idea is to offer a simple, intuitive, and uncomplicated interface that provides enough information to get people interested enough to contact you. Don’t try to explain every aspect of every service that you can provide, because all the studies indicate that no one will spend the time to read it.
Richard Millson (richard. firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of Vancouver-based Millson Multimedia.
Consider your business cards, letterhead, envelopes, your company brochure, and anything else you create or print to communicate with the outside world. Whether you know it or not, this stuff matters a lot. When you hand someone your business card, it is one of the first moments in which you have an opportunity to communicate that you are different. Forget any whacky gimmicks and stick to really high-quality paper and a very clean layout with your logo and a minimum of text.
The same goes for all your printed materials.Unless you have a real talent for this type of thing, hire a design professional to make sure everything has a unified look and feel.
If you are a company owner or senior manager who often meets with clients, then there is neither the need nor the expectation that you must dress like the rest of your team. If you want to be taken as seriously as the architect or other project professionals, then dress like them. And no, wearing a long-sleeved company logo shirt with your jeans instead of the polo your techs wear is not enough.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a bunch of expensive clothes, but you should be dressing professionally, appropriately, and differently from your installation crew. Think a little less “sub-trade” and a little more “consultant” when selecting your wardrobe, and you will elevate yourself and your company in the eyes of others.
If you want to not just survive but thrive in the years ahead, then you will need to focus on raising your professionalism in everything that you do.
Next month I’ll explore areas that you can address inside your business that are equally important in creating a truly professional organization.