It is Carnival time (my favourite season) and there are a few fetes that I want to attend before it ends. Is there any advice on professional etiquette that you can give me so that my behaviour does not affect my career and professional reputation?
Thank you so much!
~ Carnival Baby
Dear Carnival Baby,
This is a really relevant and important issue that I am happy to explore and discuss with you.
As a young professional in love with the season myself, I have spent quite some time considering the ramifications of my conduct (mis or otherwise) on my profession and my career.
What does it mean to be a professional? Professionals are masters at their jobs. Not only that, but we use said mastery to build relationships and instil confidence with clients, colleagues and members of our social and career networks. We live and stand behind our brand and our commitments.
This means that we not only command respect but we also command a high degree of reliance and trust.
It is this definition that I use to guide and remind me of how I should act when in doubt.
What does your brand say about you?
Many of us have difficulty expressing the concept of our personal and professional brand. But where does one look to define a person or professional? The answer is found by examining three key areas which we will explore in the context of the magical season that is Carnival.
Perhaps this is the most glaring and popular markers of our personal identifiers. Have you ever considered what exactly you look at, comment on, repost or are even tagged in on your various social media platforms?
These things are your image. They are the identifiers of who you are. Consider this, you are liming (in keeping with the season) with a friend and they mention a name of someone that you should potentially do business with; what is the first thing that you do.
For me, I look them up on social media. This is because I get an immediate snapshot of what this person likes, who their friends are and what occupies their time on social media. If I want to get really critical, I would even go so far as to see how much time they spend posting, commenting and reposting.
So, when liming and feting consider the social media presence of such activities. Are you going out with a group of friends? What pictures are you planning to take? How are you dressed? It is Carnival time so it is quite possible that not much attention would be paid to the length and or cut of your clothes. But always ask yourself if the outfit is something that you would not mind the CEO of your company or an associate organisation seeing you in. If you would rather they not, then my advice is to avoid posting any pictures of you wearing it on social media.
Remember, if you love Carnival as much as I do, you only get one brief period of the year to be as casual and relaxed as you like, but the whole world need not see it.
I would admit as much as anyone else that the songs for this particular season are body moving, soul shaking and heart moving. But does that mean that we would "pick up anything" when we go out?
Perhaps not. While we may be just out for having a good time and vibes, we must remember that we represent our organisations and our professions wherever we go. Yes, this also means Monday and Tuesday on the road and J’Ouvert too.
We never know who is watching from behind the stage, in the back of the crowd or even on television. By all means, have fun. Even recruiters and managers appreciate people who have a fun side but be safe and calculated in the way that you conduct yourself. It is in these circumstances that we become most vulnerable and the wrong move in a fleeting moment can tip the scales from fun to outrageous. So remain extra cautious at these times.
Perhaps this one is for during, before and after the season. Nonetheless, as we are speaking about the Carnival season, consider using this time as a great networking opportunity.
Sure, you do not want to have serious conversations over a rendition that explains to you what you should be doing with your rag, flag or "bumper" but meeting people at these types of social settings creates a more candid relationship that can be used to foster professional ones thereafter.
That said, in your list of activities, try to squeeze in at least one fete, lime or office gathering where you would be most likely to find people with whom you would like to network. For further motivation, the pictures from these events can also be posted to your social media to highlight that particular side of your professional image.
The people in our network are indicators of our personalities. When people see us surrounded by positive, progressive persons, their confidence in our brand and who we are grows, which only propels us further as professionals.
So Carnival Baby, remember your brand for this season and remain conscience of what you do, who you do it with and where it is posted after this season.
Above all else, be safe!
Lots of vibes,
AFETT is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, professional training and business ideas. ASK AFETT is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals seeking advice to assist in progressing in their careers. Today's response was written by AFETT member, Jeane Warner, director – Research and Public Advocacy of AFETT. Learn more about AFETT at www.afett.com, search for AFETT Events on Facebook, follow us @AFETTEXECS on Twitter or contact us at 354-7130. Email us your career-related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.