3 Ways to Increase Your Professionalism (In the Next 5 Minutes)

When you're busy trying to maintain a business (and keep the rest of your life in check at the same time) it's way too easy to become so focused on managing day-to-day demands that you start to lose track of tiny details.

We're a full-scale marketing agency: we handle social promotion, web updates, and complete branding for multiple companies. And of course we've got to keep track of all our own biz too: juggling internal meetings, team organization, finances, email correspondence, and HDco multi-platform marketing at the same time that we're handling our clients' marketing, branding, and design is a daily reality... Not to mention a huge challenge.

It's practically a given that in a small businesses tiny but essential professional details can get lost in the fray of day-to-day necessities. But so often it's those exact small, overlooked  that can make or break your business's professionalism to potential clients. On the one hand, you want to nail every professional opportunity, but, on the other hand, you're only human.

All of those damaging details can add up so quickly that they can seem insurmountable.

But GOOD NEWS! They're not. No problem is too big to handle if you break it down into pieces. My grandma said so, which means it's true.

So let's get a grip on all the loose ends – together, right now, in the next five minutes. 


Creative Hoot Design Co

1. Ditch standard spell check

Your computer's squiggly red lines pretty much suck. How many times have you hit send sentence that spellcheck says is A-okay and then felt the blood drain from your cheeks 30 seconds later when you realize you just cheerily told a potential client "Hope you fell better!" or messaged your boss "Can I get those files form you?"

WAY too often, that's how often. Obnoxious contextual slip-ups are all too easy to miss on a hectic day. And leave you feeling like a fool. 

So ditch simple spellcheck and switch to a comprehensive text editor.

It definitely doesn't hurt that Grammarly is easy on the eyes. I like the web app so much that I compose HDco blog posts in it. And yes, I will add that comma, thank you.

It definitely doesn't hurt that Grammarly is easy on the eyes. I like the web app so much that I compose HDco blog posts in it. And yes, I will add that comma, thank you.

I've used Grammarly for months now to catch those slip-ups. I highly recommend it. It catches straight-up spelling mistakes, of course, but also checks for contextual spelling errors (think affect vs. effect), grammar glitches, punctuation, sentence structure, and style. You can compose online in the (super sleek) Grammarly web app and save, re-access, and download your files directly from the web application.

Aha! Thanks for the heads up on the "form/from" issue, but this time it was on purpose ;)

Aha! Thanks for the heads up on the "form/from" issue, but this time it was on purpose ;)

But the real selling point for me is that it's also available as a free Chrome extension that checks your writing as you type on any website. It's saved me from making SUPER embarrassing mistakes on Facebook and Twitter dozens and dozens of times.

Easiness level: SUPER EASY

How likely you are to actually benefit: EXTREMELY, especially with the Chrome extension.

Total time requirement: 30-second sign-up, 30-second extension installation.


2. Check your business's social media profiles for consistency

This is a one-and-done check: right now, open up your company's social media profiles (yes, all of them! Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, Google+ – every platform that you're on) in separate tabs and compare your biz's profiles to your website's "about" description.

Make sure that your key biz info remains consistent across all accounts, including your...

  • Company name
  • Company profile photo
  • One-line biz description
  • Website address
  • Physical address
  • ...and any additional contact info you've got going on.

Doing a quick double-check over all of these details is a surefire way to ensure that clients, potential clients, and fans are all getting the same information about who your company is and what you do. A hallmark of any strong brand is delivering consistency – so make sure your business's social profiles are giving out the same (CORRECT) information no matter where your clients are getting it.

Easiness level: Can you handle multiple tabs? Can you read words? Can you ⌘-c, ⌘-v? SUPER EASY.

How likely you are to actually benefit: If you catch and correct any conflicting info from the above list, the answer is FOR SURE. If you don't find anything to correct, props to you on getting it right the first time around! Nice.

Total time requirement: 60–120 seconds.


3. Stay personally on-brand online

It's a reality that you (as the founder, president, or exec of your biz) are the human face of your company. Especially if you work in the face-to-face service sector (like we do), you represent your business everywhere you go: existing clients, partnering business owners, and potential customers see you as the pillar of your business's reputation. Kristen dropped a #BizBomb last week about the reality of embodying a personal brand, and SPOILER ALERT: that burden carries over to the interwebz.

So, right now, just like you did for your company, open up your personal social media profile accounts for EVERY platform you're on and make sure that your...

  • Name
  • Official title
  • Work description
  • And website address

...are all consistent and on-brand

Is your biz the quirky-creative type? Excellent: keep rocking your quirky-creative self. But if your brand walks to the beat of a drum that's at odds with your natural rhythm, realize that your personal conduct online could be damaging your brand's integrity

Clean up your contact info, any conflicting or contradictory personal descriptions, and take down any glaringly off-brand content (as in, maybe it's finally time for that 2 am St. Patrick's Day pic to go). Quickly comb through your recent posts, retweets, shared articles, and other interactions to make sure everything's clean. Jot down some mental notes on straightening up your act in the future too, while you're at it.

Easiness level: Again, incredibly easy.

How likely you are to actually benefit: If you're a high-level owner or employee of your business, the answer is definitely. Remaining personally on-brand reflects well on the integrity of your professional operations. And once again, if you find nothing that needs pruning out... way to go. Maybe go refill your coffee while the rest of us are deciding if shouting our opinion in all caps when we shared that article last Tuesday was really such a smart move.

Total time requirement: 60–180 seconds.

Aaaaaaand... WE'RE DONE!

Alright, stop the clocks! How long did that take you? Did you make it in under 5?

The key takeaway here is that of course you're going to drop the ball on the details sometimes. By taking a breath, stepping back, and allotting yourself a set amount of time to accomplish a set goal, you can tackle any problem by breaking it into parts. Even on the most hectic days in the biz world.

Is there something I missed? How do you maintain professionalism while trying to juggle a hectic life? Or even better, have you got tips for me?

Let me know in the comments section or tweet me your suggestions @averyenderle.