Working in an industry where you’re always communicating to a variety of people, collaboratively working with others on projects and representing numerous brands, it’s definitely important to be professional. I’d say my professional persona really developed my junior year of college when I joined the Illinois State University PRSSA Chapter and then it flourished when I served on the executive board my senior year. I was in college, but I wanted to be taken seriously among my peers and industry professionals.
Now that I’m out of college, I’m still professional, but I have a different understanding of it than when I was in school. My post-college experience has taught me that being professional should also mean being human. I briefly noted the importance of being human in a recent blog post, but I wanted to deepen the conversation.
It’s not that I thought being professional meant not being human, but I always had the vision that a professional life and a personal life were something separate. I think that’s changed with the popularity of social media in today’s digital age. It’s easy for anyone to learn something about someone by doing a quick search. People’s personal lives are not so personal anymore.
And, that has to be okay, because I don’t think the trend of being this connected and informed about other people is going to turn in the opposite direction. It’s best to learn how to adapt.
Being both professional and human is important in the workplace. It helps you build real relationships. Without showing a little humanity to others or perhaps revealing part of your personal side, you’re not going to build anything real. Just keep in mind that in today’s world you definitely want to make sure your personal side doesn’t hurt your professional side.