By Paul Russell, Director, Luxury Academy

Why is it that some people seem to move up the corporate ladder at record speed, whilst others with equal qualifications get left behind? Often the difference can be attributed to their ability (or inability) to navigate business etiquette and develop an engaging, inspiring work persona. As an experienced trainer in leadership, communication and business etiquette, I can offer you these five exercises which can help you to identify areas of improvement, and get noticed for the right reasons:

1) Use etiquette to build trust and enhance your professionalism.

Whilst some might consider etiquette a quaint practice of a bygone age, I would suggest that in the 21st century business environment, it is a pre-requisite to creating a climate of trust and professionalism. Etiquette is governed by unwritten rules and social contracts, indeed we’ve all been learning it since we were born and we apply etiquette almost without thinking, yet are you perhaps missing an opportunity here? Make a conscious effort to notice your own etiquette towards others, your politeness and manners, you may find that there are areas in which you can improve.

2) Internationalise your personal brand.

In this global economy it is certainly feasible that you may be communicating with customers, suppliers or colleagues internationally, either virtually or in person, which has further implications for etiquette. A light hearted quip may work well in the domestic business environment but cause deep offence in another. Do your research and gain an understanding of business etiquette around the world or for the country in question. By demonstrating to your superiors that you understand how you should act on an international platform, you will be considered for more varied opportunities.

3) Image is everything.

When you go to work you are essentially on the corporate stage, how you present yourself to others; grooming, attire, appropriateness of dress for work situation will undoubtedly be noticed by others and they, unfairly or not, will develop perceptions of you based upon this image. The boss may not read the minutiae of your most recent masterpiece at work, but they will certainly read a lot about you from your personal presentation. Make an assessment of your work image, try to be honest and impartial and ascertain areas in which you can improve; we can almost all develop in at least one area.

4) Differentiate yourself.

Coco Chanel said that in order to be irreplaceably, one must always be different. This is the ultimate aim for brands, who will attempt to differentiate themselves as a means of strategic competitive advantage, so undertake this exercise and work out what makes you different and unique, then leverage this difference to stand out from the crowd. If there is nothing, do not be disheartened, many brands have this issue also, but do take steps to remedy this.

5) Understand body language

We have considered etiquette, image and differentiating oneself, but many forget body language. Your non verbal communication forms part of the impressions that others form of you, deportment, unconscious gestures, posture; these are all aspects that can be adjusted to improve your work persona. Spend a day becoming more aware of your body language, noticing gestures that may be making you appear unconfident, or posture that appears defeated or closed. Your aim is to have open body language and graceful deportment as this will give you a confident, poised work persona, enabling you to attract the right attention and move up that corporate ladder.