One of the biggest struggles for our generation in the business world is to be taken seriously. Being young is enough of a reason for investors and business professionals to view you as illegitimate, so naturally we must go the extra mile to prove our character and value. It’s all about the attention to detail, and every detail about yourself is crucial. Here are eleven ways you can stand above the rest and get people to take you seriously.
1. Dress better.
Unless you’ve already made a name for yourself, like Mark Zuckerberg, who is known to go into investor meetings wearing a hoodie, always make sure you look good. Several studies have found that dressing well can increase your income. This is incredibly important if you’re new and fresh and no one knows who you are yet. Looking like you don’t care for trivial things like fashion really only makes it look like you don’t care about anything, and in return no one will want to care about you.
2. Don’t speak like an idiot.
Several studies have proven that people who “uptalk” (otherwise known as “valley girl talk”) are not as favored, especially in the businessworld. You’re not in the bathroom talking to your girlfriends about that disgusting guy who just sexted you or debating which toilet stall to take a selfie in — enunciate your words and learn to talk in a professional environment. For anyone who doesn’t know what “uptalking” is, watch the video below (prepare your ears):
In a study done by UK publisher Pearson, based on responses from 700 males and female bosses, they found that most “believe uptalk hinders the prospects of promotion as well as better pay grades” in their organization. Other startling facts include:
- 85% believe uptalk is a clear indicator of a person’s insecurity and emotional weakness
- 70% find uptalk a particularly annoying trait
- 57% confirmed that uptalk has the potential to damage a person’s professional credibility
- 44% stated that they would mark down applicants with uptalk by as much as a third
Here’s a good video on kicking your “uptalk” habit:
3. Watch your body language.
No one is going to take you seriously if you body doesn’t scream it. Regardless of the age-old advice “don’t judge a book by its cover,” people always do it. Take some time practicing in the mirror how you stand, walk, and shake peoples hands. Wherever you are sitting or standing, you can appear “open” by relaxing the shoulders, spreading out when you sit, and always face your body and feet to whoever you are conversing with. You’d be surprised on the positive effects it has on you and the way people treat you.
4. Don’t name drop.
I’m not sure if it’s because Silicon Valley is starting to mimic Hollywood, but I find that young entrepreneurs in this day an age LOVE to name drop. While it’s great to know influential people, it can stray people away from the product you’re trying to sell. Take what VC Tim Chang (and recent title holder of Silicon Valley’s Best Abs) has to say when asked what things young entrepreneurs do that piss him off:
“Name-dropping and trying to sound cool and plugged in – this is what wannabes do in Hollywood. “Ashton and Troy Carter are in!” “Scoble thinks we’re cool!” and “we’re part of YC” are not proxies for quality of team, business model and product.”
5. Do your research.
Please, for the love of god, if you don’t know something, don’t try to bullshit your way out of it. Either do your homework or admit that you’re a lazy idiot; people might at least give you props for the honesty. If you’re trying to nail that job interview, make sure you do research on the company and it’s industry. If you’re trying to seduce that investor to throw money at your startup, you damn well better know your industry inside and out and be able to explain why your company is a good investment.
6. Stop talking about yourself.
How the hell can I give you feedback if your narcissistic ass keeps talking about nothing but yourself? Constantly putting the spotlight on you not only gives no openings for the other person to give quality thoughts and feedback, but it simply just makes you look like a douche. LISTEN to what the other person has to say and actually have an intellectual conversation.
7. Practice proper grammar and spelling.
In a world of hashtags, 140 characters, emoticons, and short words, it seems the concept of using proper spelling and grammar is dying. No one is going to take you seriously if you email like you’re texting your friends to go out on a Thursday night. Pick up a basic grammar book, spell-check, and proofread!
8. Get to the damn point.
Cut the bullshit and tell me all the things I need to know. If I’m an influential person, I have no time to hear you beat around the bush. The more you stray away from the point, the more I believe you’re hiding something you don’t want me to know.
9. Note your failures.
In a world where everyone is super sensitive about their reputation, almost every young success seeker you meet talks endlessly about how busy they are and how well their businesses are doing. In the words of venture capitalist Brad Feld on what annoys him about the startup community:
“…There’s way too much happy talk, “I’m crushing it,” “Things are going great,” crap like that. It’s hard, every fucking day, to build a company. There are moments of awesomeness but a huge number of moments of abject terror. Don’t hide from it and don’t bullshit yourself.”
No one is perfect, however, most people choose to put up a facade of perfection in order to be seen in a more positive light. Being transparent about your failures is not only refreshing, but shows your maturity.
Another good point to mention is that according to angel investor Jason Calacanis, investors see failures as battle scars that strengthen you instead of hurt your reputation. Which makes sense, because if you look at it realistically, 9/10 startups fail. As long as you failed with honor and it’s clear you did everything possible to make it work, you’ll most likely get another chance if you came up with another good business idea.
10. Don’t look like an idiot on social media.
In an age where everyone likes to social media stalk each other before and after meeting, no one is going to take you seriously if most of your photos are of you “uncing” shirtless at EDC or selfies with your girlfriends or homies. This also includes putting up stupid status updates that shows your immaturity (i.e. status updates like “I’m so f*cked up right now!” or photos of you puking into a toilet). Like a resume, where you want to craft the best version of you, this also rings true on social media. But in all honesty, you’re getting older now, grow the f*ck up and get your shit together, you’re not in college anymore.
11. Work hard and actually be somebody.
Everyone starts somewhere, people are not going to respect you until you’ve paid your dues. Start early, work your ass off, and be useful. Once you show that you’re valuable and not like all the other regular Joes out there, all eyes will be on you.