I was taught the difference between an amateur & and a professional is simple and straight forward. An amateur does it for free, & a professional gets paid to do it. Being a professional & acting like one, however, is less well defined. Anyone can get paid for doing a task or job, but not everyone acts like we would expect a professional to act. Maybe this is the real difference between an amateur & a professional.
How do we expect a professional to act? How do we expect a professional to conduct themselves? Some of these expectations are very straightforward, & we’ve quite probably heard them in one form or another throughout our lives. For instance, showing up on time is something we expect from a professional. In fact, showing up at all is something we expect from a professional. I can’t tell you how many times companies schedule appointments & then don’t show up at all. Having a good attitude would be another one. Another one would be knowledge about your field. I’m sure there are a number of them you can think of to round out the list.
We can make a list of all the ways we expect a professional to act, but I think it comes down to something fairly simple. Trust. We want someone we can trust. Someone we trust to help us with whatever issue, goal, or dream is our focus. If we trust someone enough, it eventually turns into confidence. That’s really what we want. Someone we don’t need to constantly second guess as they assist us. We want to know they have our best interests at heart. We want to know they are empathetic to our cause, & one of the ways we can tell they care is how they treat us. Everything we do either builds or takes away trust.
Showing up every day, answering the call, & calling someone back are all ways we show we care AND build trust. Not doing these things will tear down trust. About 6 months ago I engaged a marketing firm to assist me on a project. The initial meeting was a phone call. They were supposed to call me at 5pm. Promptly at 5pm my phone rang & I spent an engaging few minutes speaking with the owner of the firm. After hearing about my project, she agreed to call me back the following week. She would then me know if there were any other questions she or her team had for me & let me know if they would be willing to work with me on this project. I was excited. I was really looking forward to working with these folks as they seemed to be the kind of professionals I would really be able to do things with. The following week, I waited for a call back that never came. Two weeks after we had initially discussed the project, I reached out to the firm again. I got a reply stating they were sorry for the delay. Their project manager was on vacation, I was told. Then they said they would love to work with me on the project & they would send me an email with all the details. I was again excited & ready to work with them. I was ready to get this project up & running. It was going to provide so much value to so many people. Guess what? The email never came. They never followed up with me again, and I never reached out to them again. My trust with the local firm was essentially gone. Why would I chase after service from a company who doesn’t respond according to their own word? I really wanted to work with them, but ultimately, I had to choose a different direction.
This is the power of being a professional. You can win or lose clients, customers, or friends based on how professional you choose to be. If you choose to show up every day & give people a reason to trust you, you will be a professional in a very good sense of the word.