I recently ventured into the business world. I came from Education which is a tiny microcosm of people that have worked with one another in some capacity for years. It is basically a commune, switching from site to site and working with the same permutation of people in different spots. It is very easy to build a reputation in such a small ecosystem. Jumping into the business world concerned me as I had very few contacts outside of Education (another sign of its commune-esque leanings).
But, our world is greatly interconnected and when you seek out connections they reveal themselves. Then when you look at your community, then the business community, the circles get smaller and smaller. In the small-large city that I live in it is very easy to become very well connected, but the reputation that you build in those connections is important, which is why I have cemented into my interactions to ABL - Always Be Lovely.
I think that this was a good lesson to learn before branching out into the business world. Early on in this fledgling career path I watched a keynote youtube wherein a woman shared that she missed an opportunity to meet Taylor Swift because she said that Ed Sheeran was unattractive. He tweeted her and apologized for his bad looks. Ouch. In her mind, and rightfully so, she killed any chance of being anywhere near Taylor Swift (Ed and TayTay were closely connected at that time). She stated and restated the importance of always being lovely.
When I was in university it was impressed upon us that the most important thing to advance our career was to be nice and know the right people. This wasn't explicitly taught but through the stories that our instructors shared with us it was clear that they got to where they were because of who they knew and how they treated people along the way. I'm not at all saying to hide your genuine self or to hire an image manager, I'm just telling you that every experience you have is an opportunity to share your best self.
A friend of mine attended a panel discussion with ladies and gentlemen at various of stages of their careers. One man said that the best tool to learn is to network effectively and early in your life. You never know who you might need at some point, and who may open doors for you. You may even meet your spouse through these loose connections. You are actually more likely to get hired and get married through loose connections than close ones. Being lovely will help you to get a job and be loved, go figure.
I used to scowl a lot. Some call it RBF, I was just thinking. And that scowl was becoming etched on my face with the dreaded 11s (the creases between your eyebrows that stay long after you've stopped scowling) and it started to permeate the inside leaving its mark. There is a thought out there that if you smile it will affect your mood. On my walks with my dog every day I now find myself smiling. I used to process a lot of things and try to solve all of my life's problems on my walks, but one day I decided to be more like my dog, which meant I smiled more. The walks have become less about solving all of my problems and more about enjoying the moment. I laugh now, looking back. People would always smile at my gregarious dog, and then just give the flat line mouth smile to me - you know the one where your lips close and the sides of your mouth curl up slightly. Like a closed mouth Chesire Cat, we look a little dopey doing it, but we all do it. Now I smile and say hello, loudly and clearly with a toothy grin.
You only get one first impression, and even if it is just a smile, that will convey loveliness. Our world is smaller than you think and people remember how you made them feel. Even if it is a complete crap situation, there is an opportunity for kindness, we can drop a hammer without completely squashing a spirit.
Always Be Lovely.