6 Tips to Improve Your Professional Presence and Gain More Influence as a Clerk
As a Municipal Clerk you are always on. Whether at the office, at the monument dedication, or even at the grocery store, as a Clerk you must always exude professional presence when you are in public. A professional presence will help you to achieve many of your goals as a Clerk. A polished image can assist in getting that budget approved, being calm and poised during meetings, and becoming a charismatic good will ambassador for your office and your community. Professionals that have a ‘presence’ are described as having ‘that something’ or having an ‘aura.’ Perhaps people like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Oprah Winfrey, come to mind when thinking of individuals with charisma and influence.
Many believe that one must be born having charisma and presence; however, we can all hone in our skills, and as Steve Covey states in his highly acclaimed book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Peoplewe must always, “sharpen our saw.”
Let’s begin sharpening your saw by building your own Professional Presence Toolkit.
1. Be flexible
How many times has someone’s failure to plan become your emergency? Probably too many to count. This is not to say that you become a doormat. Instead, be flexible and seek to understand. Learn other people’s personality styles (and there are many) this way you can better relate to that individual. For example, does your manager prefer to communicate in quick bursts via email, or would she rather have a meeting in person? The same goes with your immediate team and the general public. Be flexible, listen first, learn what makes them tick, and be flexible with the most appropriate response that speaks to that individual.
2. Pursue excellence
Why? To avoid accepting mediocrity as excellence! Be the Clerk that delivers excellence in everything you do. On the phone, at the counter, presentations, minutes – everything you do, do it with zest. When you are known as a person of excellence, it becomes currency you can use to influence others. That currency will take you far within your circle of influence and beyond to make the world a better place and further your career
3. Listen more, talk less
In an era where we are competing for ‘air time’ and people don’t think twice about talking over each other, it is critical to be an exemplary good listener. Practice this with your team, constituents, and everyone you interact with. When you do speak, after first listening, ask insightful questions.
4. Practice diplomacy and tact
Clerks are tested daily. As professionals, you must remain calm and focused when conflict arises. A clerk is privy to numerous confidential matters, and at times they may find themselves being the town psychologist. A Clerk that is poised under pressure is someone who will be given the autonomy to make critical decisions.
5. Be a person of character and respect
Be known as positive and pleasant. Clerks interact with many personalities, and need to work with individuals who may not always be at their best. Good will is something that has to be earned and stays with you for a long, long time. The following quote by Dave Willis sums it up, “Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, as a reflection of yours.” Staying composed when dealing with members of the community will go a long way to solidifying your public profile.
6. Practice “netiquette”
Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and blogging, are just a few of the social media tools used to interact with the public. Everyone would like to let their hair down once in a while; however, as a Clerk, you must be cognizant of what you disseminate online. Whether you are emailing your boss, colleagues, or constituents: be formal. Compose thoughtful emails and proof carefully before hitting send. There are many examples where seemingly private posts from public officials become broadcasted for all to see.
These tips are only the beginning of a voluminous topic; however, they are a good reminder that you own your presence. You are the author of your identity, and you write the script for managing your credibility and career. Beginning today, assess one area where you can ‘sharpen’ your professional presence. Commit to putting into practice the tips described above in order to show your superb charisma, credibility, and influence. It’s your biggest asset in defining your career, accomplishing more within your Municipality, and becoming a prominent voice in your organization.
About the Author
Onorina Maloney’s rich background has included roles such as buyer, administrator and business owner. Her career as a Municipal Clerk began in 2002 when she was hired as a Clerical Assistant in the Clerk’s Office. A year later, she became the Clerk, and that’s when the love affair of Public Service began. Onorina is a lifelong learner and a positive change agent, and holds several certifications including the Certified Municipal Clerk, and the Certified Massachusetts Municipal Clerk designations. A native of Italy, Onorina believes in the art of the ‘Bella Figura ‘and strives to incorporate it in her personal and professional life
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