In many cases, life as a creative brings with it a level of informality not found in other vocations. However, casual work environments can (and should) be professional ones as well. Being professional is not the same as being stuffy or uptight, it’s presenting yourself in the way you want to be seen, and presenting your product in a way that reflects the effort behind it.
Professionalism is about much more than manners. It is about the expectations you set, the standards you maintain, and how you make decisions and manage conflict.
Whether it’s the way you conduct yourself in meetings, on the phone, or over email, a well-composed tone is a key component in the way others will perceive you. This is critical in situations involving potential and existing clients, collaborators, partners and financiers; your livelihood and business depend on it.
Maintaining appropriate composure relies on an ability to separate emotion from work at the appropriate juncture. The inherent nature of a creative is to pour all of him or herself into a project, but there is a difference between believing strongly in the product you’ve created and being completely blinded by the investment you feel you’ve made in it. Knowing that difference is key to presenting yourself in a positive, professional manner.
Ultimately, professionalism is evaluated under extreme circumstances that test one’s patience, flexibility, receptivity, and tolerance. As your ideas gain traction with a broader audience, be prepared for repeated questions and unanticipated demands. Without compromising your passion and integrity, professionalism will enable you to be respected, better understood, develop partnerships, and raise funds to further your work.
Unforeseen situations and requests are enough to catch anyone off-guard. Maintaining your daily routine with an adequate and appropriate level of decorum, self-presentation and professionalism will ensure your work, relationships and business continue to thrive in the way they deserve to do so.