Making the best impression

by Grace Chan

Virginia Choi
managing consultant and country manager
Tamty McGill Consultants International Limited
Photos: Courtesy of PolyU

Personal values, emotional intelligence and a personal brand are crucial keys to career success

While technical expertise, rational thinking and strong interpersonal skills are important in the workplace, top achievers usually have in addition the charisma and capacity for managing people and their own workflow.

"People that are upbeat and positive thinkers are more desirable employees," says Virginia Choi, managing consultant and country manager, Tamty McGill Consultants International Limited. "People with the highest EQ (emotional quotient) may not always be the smartest, but they tend to be the best communicators."

Integrity is everything to today's employers, while trustworthiness and a sense of responsibility are essential in any profession, adds Ms Choi.

Technical skills are fundamental to staying competitive and employees should continue to pursue professional qualifications. However, it is their capacity for rational thinking, forward planning and problem solving that makes all the difference.

A service-orientated attitude is crucial not only when dealing with customers, but also in relationships with peers and supervisors, says Ms Choi, adding that people that are flexible and adaptable and have strong leadership and communication skills will move up the ranks.

Staying ahead

  • Technical skills: pursue higher qualifications
  • Cognitive capability: forward-thinking and innovative
  • Essential attributes: good interpersonal, communication and leadership skills, and a customer focus
  • Personal qualities: honest, responsible and trustworthy
  • Self-management: positive thinking, high emotional intelligence

Raymond Cheung
vice president training
Altruist Financial Group Limited

Self-marketing for success

It takes time for people to explore their own strengths and weaknesses but doing so will help them to build a "personal brand", says Raymond Cheung, vice president, training, Altruist Financial Group Limited.

A personal brand encompasses more than just appearance and professional knowledge. "It also includes personal values such as integrity, credibility and commitment," says Mr Cheung.

He adds that this also helps to increase mobility in the employment market.

"Financial planners, for example, market themselves rather than simply sell products. The bulk of their responsibility lies in nurturing long-term relations with customers," Mr Cheung explains. "A personal brand is a valuable asset."

Since it takes only about 15 minutes to make an impact, but up to 18 months to rectify a wrong impression, it pays to follow the right steps to building a personal brand. Mr Cheung advises, "Understanding yourself is the first and most important step, as this helps you to assess your strengths, pursue your goals and enjoy what you're doing."

People's perceptions of themselves may not always correspond with how others see them. It is therefore crucial to be open to opinions to reconcile the two views to build a strong personal brand.

Once this is done, they need to market themselves properly. "Resumes and business cards are effective marketing tools, but young graduates today also like to set up websites or blogs to demonstrate their goals and thoughts. Such tools can also help channel feedback and strengthen the person's personal brand," Mr Cheung says.

Creating a personal brand

1. Understand your strengths and weaknesses
2. Be open to others' perceptions and opinions
3. Incorporate personal values
4. Use a variety of tools

Mary Cheung
Managing Director and Founder
Mary Cheung & Associates (International) Limited

Invest in yourself

A professional image comprises beauty quotient (BQ), good etiquette, as well as physically unobservable factors such as inner beauty, says Mary Cheung, President of the Professional Image and International Etiquette Institute.

Ms Cheung notes that a professional image is the pinnacle of a personal brand and that proper head-to-toe grooming can help in this regard. "To build a professional image, a person should always respect and comply with appropriate dress codes and pay attention to subtle details," she advises. "It is wise to avoid new clothes on an important event. Put on something that will make you feel comfortable and confident. When it comes to office attire, simplicity is key."

She adds that people, regardless of their professional backgrounds and experience, must nurture their inner beauty, which in essence, is made up of good manners, temperaments, education, spheres of knowledge and social etiquette.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to whether the individual has the capacity for making other people feel comfortable and showing respect for others. "One must also be able to demonstrate good manners while being considerate in a sincere and consistent fashion," Ms Cheung emphasises.

On a final note, she remarks that people should adhere to an appropriate social role. "Everybody has a role to play in society and to play it well requires a person's full engagement," Ms Cheung says. "Investing in yourself and building a professional image can always generate positive returns."

Etiquette essentials

  • Make others feel comfortable
  • Respect for other people
  • A considerate disposition

Taken from Career Times 15 January 2010, A20

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