This week, Roula Amire summarized Amber Naslund’s recent open letter to professional women blog post. Some of the tips Naslund gave were to ditch heels you can’t walk in, get rid of limp handshakes, and trim the use of “like” in conversations.
The response to the post on Ragan.com was overwhelming. Some readers wanted to know why the article focused only on women. What about men? They can be criticized as well. You are absolutely right.
To be fair and balanced, here are a few points as to how men should dress and act professionally:
Shine your shoes: Thanks to Shelly Kramer (@ShellyKramer) for this one. “Scruffy, outdated shoes that don’t go with the rest of your outfit are a dead giveaway that you’re not paying attention to details.” It also shows that you don’t care about the impression you put forth when you have badly worn shoes. Every little thing matters in a client pitch. Think about it and put your best foot forward (pun intended). I live in an area where we get lots of snow. I have winter shoes and carry my good ones in the car. This keeps them looking great. It’s also important to invest in a shoe shine kit. Keep one at your desk and in your car.
Easy with the “product:” As much as some women are criticized for wearing too much perfume, men are guilty too. I worked in an office where a man reeked of cologne. A client once leaned over and said, “Who took a bath in cologne today?” I’d rather my presentation be the topic of conversation, not my scent. There’s nothing wrong with smelling good, but one spray is often enough.
Grooming matters: Think people don’t notice your hair looking like it hasn’t been cut since before Thanksgiving? They do. Whether you like your hair long or short, make sure you take a regular trip to the barber. You may have gotten away with the “scruffy” look in college, but it doesn’t work in the office setting. Facial hair is a sticky point, too. Trimmed and neat is good, the vagrant look is not. If you walk into an interview looking like you were at the bar all night, would you hire you? What would a client or co-worker think if you walked into a meeting looking disheveled? You are representing yourself and your company.
We don’t need to see your lunch: This can go for both men and women, actually. At a potential client lunch recently, the person I was with chewed with his mouth open the whole time. Business lunches are a time when you can either gain or lose clients. I want to remember our discussion, not the chicken parm that I saw in his mouth. Manners are incredibly important. If you think you need a brush up, there are plenty of good places to find advice.
No ties are fine, but… We know in today’s business casual world, men like to go “sans tie” on occasion. However, we shouldn’t see the concert T-shirt you got the night before under a white dress shirt (thanks to commenter SeeGeeBee for this tip). You also want a dress shirt that buttons high enough so you don’t see most of the undershirt. The two shirt button open look is not appealing in the business setting. I’d like to know I’m working with people who are ready to work, not party.
First impressions are everything. Whether you are doing a video blog or meeting a client for the first time, be your best. It goes a long way.
Guys, what would you add to this list?