How To Fool Others Into Thinking You Have Years of Experience
By: Jessica Eturralde
Feeling new to the game? Want to be taken seriously?
If you’re looking to make a lasting professional impression that follows you wherever you go, do this:
Show Up On Time
Don’t be that person. You know, the one who consistently has something come up that keeps them from getting to anything on time. Everyone’s busy! Be more realistic about when you can arrive for an appointment or meeting. Add a 15 minute buffer time to leave if you need to.
Being the punctual person demonstrates leadership, accountability, and dedication.
Be on time. Always. In the rare event you’re late, contact the person you are meeting and set their expectations accordingly. Leaders understand that things happen, just be professional about it.
No More Inspirational Quotes
Quotes with scenic backdrops and whispers of Thoreau telling us to “Go. Dream. Discover.” is so overdone. I call this the “Empty Inspiration Epidemic” and it’s something we can purchase anywhere on a mug or a refrigerator magnet. Once we get out of college, we begin searching for more specific and applicable ways to be inspired.
People want to hear what you have to say. Furthermore, if they don’t have a quick and clear way to apply what you’ve written, they won’t care.
How exactly are reaching your goals and how can I do the same?
Your accomplishments are inspiring. Write your own material and tell everyone what worked for you.
Doing so will cause you to look like the expert and you'll get more engaged responses.
Always Set Realistic Expectations, Even If It’s Not Good News
I once had a business partner who struggled with giving less-than-perfect expectations for the group. The result was months of optimistic promise that never came to fruition (and cost me and the other partners $15,000 each).
Do everyone a favor: be clear and realistic about news that affects others. You may think you’re doing a good deed by providing optimistic feedback, but you’re actually harming others if your word falls through.
If your news is straight up bad, make sure you have one, even two solutions to resolve the problem.
If a deal is looking a little shaky, say so. If you’re unsure whether you’ll be able to complete a project before Friday, don’t tell your client it’ll be ready Wednesday to get them excited. Buy yourself an extra day or two, and if it’s earlier than expected, they’ll be impressed! People appreciate realistic deadlines more than optimistic promises.
Test yourself. Try for one week to make a habit of setting realistic expectations and note how people respond, and how your stress level changes.
Stop Apologizing So Much
Less experienced people apologize too much. It comes off as lack of confidence and unprofessional.
The only time you should apologize in business is when:
You're running late (which should be rare)
You missed an appointment (again, rare)
You miscommunicated and it created a problem for others (learn from the mistake and never repeat)
You didn’t do your job (apologize and demonstrate how you will immediately turn this around)
Messed up your words while speaking to an important person or group? Don’t apologize, keep moving like nothing happened. We’ve been there, and frankly, we don’t care. Keep going.
Did you speak up or offer a suggestion that not everyone agrees with? It happens. You know what? It will again. As long as you listen and fairly assess the situation, you have nothing to apologize for.
Too often we believe that because they’re differences in opinion, someone has to be right, and therefore the other is wrong. This is not so. It’s about recognizing that there are different ways to experience things.
Do your job well, and own your position. No apologies, ok?
Always Follow Through
Do you know someone who makes plans to call you/see you/meet you/introduce you and you contact them several times and never reach them. Two months later, you bump into them at a party and they say, “Oh yeah, I haven’t forgotten about you! I’m still planning to ______!”
Translation: They forgot about you.
These people are too busy bouncing all over the place. They have no plan, no direction, and no follow through.
Do you really want to put in a lot of effort into a relationship where you don’t even know if they’ll reciprocate? No, you don’t.
Don’t be this person! Do what you say you will and keep communication open in the process.
Demonstrate that you’re professional and your word is gold. If you’re not sure if you can do something, don’t offer it (see number 3). Sometimes, saying no is one of the best things you can do for yourself AND others.
By following through, you will gain a reputation of being a solid professional. People will begin to trust you because they know that you are the real deal. Be that person.
Talk Less. Listen More.
The most successful people in business will tell you that establishing and cultivating relationships is about listening to other people. Accomplished people don’t need to prove themselves to anyone; they count on their results to speak for them.
Balance your conversations by really listening and talking about the topic at hand instead. Try not to pretend to listen and only think about what you’re going to say next. It will be disjointed.
If someone picks up that you’re really listening, their walls slowly will come down.
If you want to connect with other professionals, you’re going to need to be sincerely invested in listening to them.
Start and End All Meetings on Time
I'm aware of more than one nonprofit board where all of the directors attend the monthly meeting with dread. Not because of the content, but because they know that their Wednesday evening will be fully tied up for a meeting that drags on and on.
Ever been to one of those? You get there 5 minutes early, to discover that it’s starting late because they’re waiting on “so and so” to arrive. Once it starts 20 minutes late, topics are revisited at least one other time to catch up those who got there afterwards.
Absolutely the wrong way to hold a meeting.
Instead, when holding a meeting, do this:
Start ON TIME. Those who are late, can update themselves via the minutes, or can call in. Professionals understand that they are accountable for themselves.
Be courteous to those who arrived on time. Don’t revisit already discussed topics.
END ON TIME. Unapologetically require everyone to be punctual. Then, let them know that in the same professional courtesy, you will end on time. When it’s time to adjourn the meeting, leave the floor open for others to discuss topics if they want to continue, but don’t hold everyone prisoner for hours!
If you take these steps every time. People will know what to expect, and they will respect your professionalism. Leadership begins with structure and consistency. That’s how you gain respect.
Don’t Stop Learning
The most accomplished people are where they are because they were teachable. If you don’t know something, be honest about it. It’s okay. We don’t know everything. If you’re teachable, you show that you are realistic about your skills and desire to improve them.
If there’s something you want to learn how to do, make a plan to do it. Surround yourselves with others who keep you on your toes and accept criticism with grace.
Take it from Bill Gates who said, “The toughest feedback to hear, is the feedback you need the most.” Constructive criticism is a beautiful thing! It allows you to weed out mistakes and turn them into strengths.
Understand that criticism (in the right context) does not mean that you’re bad at something. Don’t take it personal. Just change it. No big deal. By doing so, you will reap long-term rewards.
By setting a high standard of accountability and responsibility for yourself, you not only appear experienced, but you become example. Now wave goodbye to the chapter of life where discipline was more lenient. You’re in the big leagues now.
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