If you're following the advice I offered in my column in the March 20 edition of CertTutor.net Live!, then you're trying to set a good example at work for clients and coworkers. You might have found that the task becomes easier as you develop good habits. I hope that you're well on your way.

Reader Ed Roden wrote to say that we should be sure to act professionally toward everyone. "I've often seen other consultants blow off secretaries and administrative assistants," he wrote, explaining that such behavior is a mistake because "they'll get you in the door and around the bureaucratic red tape faster than anybody else." This might sound like a manipulative approach, but it's not. When you treat everyone respectfully and professionally, you differentiate yourself from your competition (i.e., companies vying for the contracts you have or competing for new contracts you want). This advice applies to job seekers too.

Recently, I read through some sales training materials from a program that I won't name. In the world of sales, one of the goals is to act like, or "mirror," a potential customer. For salespeople, appearance seems more important than actions. Seeking to earn clients' trust by acting like them, and not by delivering on your promises, is a recipe for short-term success and long-term disappointment. If you become a chameleon and act differently toward each person you encounter, you might have trouble maintaining your own identity. Such behavior can also result in strained situations when you find yourself facing multiple clients at the same time.

Developing the habit of professionalism is more than an act—it's a conscious decision to act ethically, respectfully, and courteously to everyone. Stick with it!