I recently found myself chatting with someone at a local business networking lunch. We began to talk about the various events we attend and were surprised our paths had never crossed before. The gentleman in question mentioned one particular business breakfast, but quickly continued with; ‘But that’s only for professionals’. The patronising words ‘so not for you my dear’ were implied but not spoken aloud.
An hour or so later I was driving back to the office and was still thinking about his comment. I felt extremely irritated. There were two things playing on my mind. First, why is marketing often not recognised as a profession and second, being professional is surely about the individual?
Because I’m a marketer, I was not ‘a professional’ in this man’s eyes. Yet, I’ve studied for a number of years; I have a degree and professional qualifications. Clients come to me because of my knowledge and experience to help their businesses grow. But this individual who is a banker/lawyer/accountant/ (delete as you see appropriate) does not see my profession as on a par with his own.
Most people can begin their working lives as an accounts or legal clerk if they so choose, but it takes time and dedication to qualify. Anyone can take a position as a marketing executive, but again, it takes determination and effort to gain Chartered status. Surely, if a person has studied, passed exams and is paid to give advice in their chosen field, they are a professional.
This individual had clearly not considered how five little words allowed me to draw my own conclusions about him. I felt very insulted by his one throw away comment. I cannot change his opinion about Marketing as an industry. To him, it is not a bone fide profession and never will be. However, he considered himself a professional purely on the grounds of his job title. But to me at least, he certainly did not come across as such.
In my opinion, to be a professional goes far beyond the industry sector in which you work. It means being a qualified and experienced expert in your chosen field; giving easy to understand explanations and honest advice. It’s about keeping up to date with the latest developments in your industry. It’s about passing on the benefit of your experience to the next generation. It also means ensuring others never feel inferior or less important than you. It’s about putting clients at their ease and forming relationships built on trust and mutual respect.
There is definitely more to being a professional than industry sector and wearing a dark-coloured suit. After all, those who are members of the oldest profession rarely have letters after their names…
Why not follow Business Vitamins on Twitter?
Or find out more about Business Vitamins a full service strategic marketing agency based near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.