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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

What’s a Professional “It Factor” and How Do You Get It?


If you know me, you know that I’m passionate about helping professionals get a seat at the table. Whether that’s a promotion or a new opportunity, I’m here to help you get there. Recently, I’ve been focusing on helping professionals get “unstuck” when they hit a roadblock in their career journey. It takes a little emotional intelligence, a little grit, and a certain something extra to get out of that funk, but today I want to talk about it.


THE "IT FACTOR"


You know that moment when someone just grabs you? They walk into a room and you're instantly curious about them, what they have to say, what they're doing? I have a theory that the "it factor" is composed of three things: appearance, communication skills, and gravitas. I've got a whole blog post coming up about gravitas, so stay tuned for that, but today I want to look at how appearance and communication can get you some of that "it factor" in your career.


APPEARANCE


When I say appearance, I'm not talking about being vain. You don't have to go out and buy a ton of Gucci and Versace, but I do really think that a good presentation telegraphs success and competence. If you look put together, your outfits are thoughtful, and you look neat and groomed, it announces to the world that you care about where you are today and the work you're doing. Equally, presentation is about body language. Even if you dressed nicely, if you're slumped over and inattentive in a meeting, or zoning out during a presentation, you're not going to look good.


COMMUNICATION


The other thing that's important is communication. Now, I get that none of you would have the jobs you have if you weren't decent communicators. You can write emails and reports and presentations, but good communication goes beyond that. To achieve that "it factor," you need to regularly read the room, adjust your communication styles accordingly, and really reach people where they are using your communication.


Some folks think they can fake their way to impressive communication using long, complicated words, but honestly I think we can all agree that's pointless and annoying. Effective communication isn't about flash, it should be about communicating the most effectively to the people you want to reach. If you hate public speaking, don't panic! You don't have to be giving TED Talks to nail the communication piece of having a good professional presence.


What you need is to flex your communication muscle and work on being prepared and clear when you're speaking to someone. Even in a small meeting, you can arrive with an outline, have clear talking points, and listen attentively to questions that folks ask you. Design your meetings and presentations with empathy for the people receiving it. This kind of careful communication can really establish you as someone to watch.


Between a good presentation and clear communication, you'll be well on your way to securing a position as someone with that "it factor" that helps you stay top of mind in your office. Stay tuned for the next blog, which is going to talk about the importance of gravitas when honing in on your personal brand in your career.


If you're still struggling on how to handle your executive presence, you might benefit from signing up for a one-on-one with me. Click here and sign up for a free consultation, and let's get started!

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