“I’m a photographer, I take pics and vids and stuff like that editing photoshop all of it, im pretty good if I do say so myself lol”.
This is a quote taken from an actual email-application when asked to describe their experience as an event photographer. We’ve seen it on social media, and in our personal emails: social professionalism is dying. An extremely important part of being a creator, owning, or working for any company is professionalism, and quality. Just because we’re artists doesn’t mean we can neglect professional precedents.
Your image matters. With the rise of social media, and a slew of abbreviated terminology, society got a bit reckless, even I’ve fallen prey to it. It was my mother who cautioned me to “take that off of Facebook right now boy!”, that inspired me to become more professional, not just in person, but online, too.
Social professionalism is the easiest part of business, it’s so easy that it’s often overlooked, or missed completely. Making simple changes in your social-professional world can greatly improve your online presence.
SIMPLE SOLUTIONS TO SOCIAL PROFESSIONALISM:
EMAILS: How Your Email Looks…Matters.
Choose a professional email, your first and last name @gmail.com or your company’s name @yahoo.com etc.
Every email you send must have a proper subject line; it should never be empty. Example; if you’re interested in becoming a photographer for an event, your subject line would read; Event Photographer Inquiry
Each email sent and replied to must be formal. Example;
[name goes here]
Respond to emails promptly. Google, the number one website in the world, responds to emails within 2-5 days. There is no reason why we can’t.
Display basic etiquette always spell check, check your grammar, watch for capitalization and never send huge attachments without being asked to.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube etc.
Never leave a possible client, new boss, employer, or opportunity on read. Leave it unopened until you’re able to reply. Never read it without responding.
Create two pages/profiles. One for your professional artistry, and one for your personal life.
Watch what you post. What you write in the comments section, memes you post, videos, photos, etc matter.
Create informative about/bio sections. Clients, and possible employers should be able to read what you do, who you are, and how to find you/reach you by reading your social media about sections.
Display quality profile pictures, even if it’s an art piece. Be identifiable, whether that’s the symbol of your company, the name of it, or a picture of you, let it be of quality.
CELL PHONES: Calling, Voice Message, Texting
Never leave a possible client, new boss, employer, or opportunity on read. [refer to above] Always respond in a timely fashion.
Unless okayed, never call someone after 8pm or before 8am. The latter is a rule of thumb, typical work days are 9 to 5, but creatives don’t often operate that way. Play it safe.
While many do not check or have voice messaging, it would help you to create a pleasant identifiable voice message stating you do not check your voice message, asking for callers to text instead.
Unless okayed, keep texting at a minimum. Too often things get misconstrued through texting.
I often hear that in order to be a successful creative professional, it takes 10% talent, and 90% business: the moniker for quality and professionalism. Too often we convince ourselves that our gifts supersede societal standards, but they don’t. I believe If you want your creative work to be taken more seriously, and possibly lead to more collaborative or creative opportunities, try implementing these social professionalism techniques. I know first hand that practicing them helped me.
No one will read the book if the cover isn’t captivating, your social professionalism is your cover, your literal front, your image, your initial. Captivate, qualify, and follow through. It works.
Tahir Register is photographer, actor, and editor of TheBLACKMedia.org, an entertainment publication that transcends stereotypes commonly applied to people of colour in entertainment. He holds a bachelor’s degree in contemporary arts and can often be found curating content to promote entertainers of color, or using his creative talents to inspire unity.