How To Manage Your Professional Persona

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on April 30, 2008
Tags: , , ,

business card.My resume winds through the wilds of publishing, including entries within the newspaper world, academic book publishing, new media, and even a brief stint volunteering at a print mag startup.

Now that I’m a full-time freelancer — more than willing to take on just about anything to make some extra cash — it’s proven even tougher to pin down a professional identity.

My business card reads: “Writer/Editor”

The reality is a bit more complex. At the moment, my responsibilities include proofreading, publicity, review collation, and blogging.

So I introduce myself as a freelancer, crossing my fingers that people don’t ask “a freelance what?”

Last night, I had a business meeting to discuss publicity plans for a forthcoming trade title.

My colleague showed me his notes from a recent sales meeting, and I noticed myself listed as a publicist and self-help writer.

At which point I had an epiphany. Despite everything else that I do, I am a publicist and self-help writer. And anything else I happen to present myself as.

Which leads me to several points:

  • It’s all about attitude. Just as I can or cannot pull off the gauchos+boots look depending on how I feel (sometimes I feel like a pirate), I also can or cannot pull off various professional identities depending upon the attitude I project. When introducing yourself to a possible new client — or even to a new acquaintance, to start small — look that person in the eye, offer a firm handshake, and say (nay, declare) “I am a ___,” without any disclaimers.
  • You can be a specialist…with many different specialties. Just make sure that you tailor your presentation depending upon your audience. For example, my professional page once included a small section on my singing availability. I eventually cut it because the site was designed to concentrate on my writing, and I didn’t want to dilute my “brand.” I once blogged about Marci Alboher of One Person/Multiple Careers. In her book, Alboher dedicates a significant amount of space to the topic of a multi-platform presentation, discussing the pros behind having multiple resumes, multiple business cards, and even multiple websites. After all, wouldn’t you tailor a cover letter in much the same way?
  • You can combine identities to become…The SuperPro!!! I combined a love of shopping with a love of writing to become a products blogger. I was then able to parlay that into another paying gig, in which I blog about blogging! Are you a booknerd with marketing skills? Perhaps you could be a bookshop event planner! (Is that my idealistic subconscious speaking?) More realistically, perhaps: Are you a copywriter with a thriving side business building web pages? Charge more by offering content development to your web clients.
  • You can always reinvent yourself. Once upon a time, I was a copy editor who became an editorial assistant who became a marketing manager who became a blogger, and I have a feeling I’ll become many more things in the years to come. You should never feel trapped or pigeonholed, because it’s always possible to start over. It helps to write out your goals, and then the steps you need to take to achieve them. Seeing it in a simple to-do list format will make it that much less daunting. But don’t forget about your past lives entirely: Those varying areas of expertise provide you with a unique bag of tricks, available whenever you need it.

Onward, my little superprofessionals!


One Response to 'How To Manage Your Professional Persona'

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  1. Nicole said,

    you should write a self-help book


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