* First, dress the part. Be sure that you are dressing professionally. Women often sabotage themselves by dressing too sexy or too casual at work. Wear a jacket or blazer to add personal authority to your look. Avoid clothing that is too tight or too revealing — no cleavage. The more skin you show, the less professional it is.
* Speak with confidence. Avoid terms and phrases that can make what you say sound less definitive. For instance, phrases such as “I think,” “I feel” or “I just” make you sound unsure about what you are saying. Try saying, “My research shows ...,” or “This study confirms my idea about ... .” Do speak up and offer ideas.
* Develop a firm handshake, and don't be afraid to initiate a handshake. The person who initiates the handshake has the advantage. Make good eye contact when speaking with someone. Being able to make eye contact when speaking makes all of us appear more confident.
* Stand for introductions when meeting and greeting someone in your office or out in public. If women stay seated when the men stand, they are relinquishing some of their personal authority. The business world is gender neutral. That means there is the same expectation for women as there is for men.
* Watch your body language. Over 80 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Standing straight and walking with purpose speaks volumes.
* Consider finding a mentor who is a seasoned professional to guide you through the rough spots.
Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to email@example.com.