The other day I had an ad sales rep stop by my office trying to sell me something.
In her mid-twenties, the woman was old enough to know better, but obviously didn’t care that she was breaking several unspoken rules of acting like a business professional.
I’ll skip right over the fact that she showed up for her appointment twenty minutes early. Early is better than late, unless of course the person you are basically dropping in on has other appointments or obligations and has to stick to a tight schedule.
What I couldn’t get past was the fact that she showed up looking like she was ready to go “clubbing” instead of trying to negotiate a business deal.
Although questionable, her attire could possibly have been overlooked if she hadn’t come in with her blouse unbuttoned two buttonholes past the point of being decent. Really? It might work with some of her male clients, but was not helping her cause with me. At all.
The second thing I couldn’t quite overlook was the bright green gum she was chewing. How do I know it was green, you ask? Because it was hanging out of her mouth about half the time. Between the loud smacking and chewing, she continued to attempt to chomp it into submission while she was delivering her spiel about why I should invest money with her company.
Probably a minor infraction in the grand scheme of things, it was also hard not to notice the bright blue chipped nail polish on her fingers. Whatever happened to neutral tones for business professionals?
On top of all that, she didn’t come prepared, left something she needed for her presentation in the car, and did not instill any sense of confidence in me that she was capable of doing a good job of delivering the service she was promising.
Thinking maybe she was brand-new to the job, she told me she’d been in her current position for almost a year.
I’m all for people being individualistic, but there are still some basic rules you need to abide by if you want to be successful in certain situations. If you are calling on someone as a business professional, then act and dress the part. The person who shows up dressed appropriately, who knows how to shake hands, arrives prepared, and can instill confidence in their abilities to do a good job for their potential client are going to do much better than the person who shows up looking like they haven’t yet grown up or figured out what they’re doing.
It’s the same for self-published writers.
Learn the rules, search out the basic guidelines, and put on your professional attitude and attire. Don’t show up for a book signing wearing sweats and a stained shirt. Don’t use a photo your kids snapped in a dimly lit restaurant on your cell phone as your profile photo. Don’t expect people to take you seriously if you don’t do it yourself.
No matter what others might tell you, it really is important.