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Professionalism In Our Industries.


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#1 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 05:27 PM

Well, there are a couple of "hot topics" at the momet, and a few posts in them have kind of pointed at something that I view from one point... yet have now began to think about more diversely - that of our industries, our conduct and the disadvantages we face compared to non-net based industries and businesses.

With posts by ...Rebecca Kelley... and ...SEOigloo..., amongst others, I've been somewhat enlightened to the fact that we are a lot more exposed than many other industry sectors... to some extent, even the happenings of the rich and famous are harder to get information on than some of us!

(NOTE: (?) Indicates whether I'm using thigns like oxymorons and nonsensical statements :infinite-banana:)
(NOTE: My keyboard really is attempting to make me look bad - the typos and spelling errors have othing to do with me)


So...
Professionalism :
A) The expertness characteristic of a professional person

Professional :
A) A person engaged in one of the learned professions
B) Engaged in a profession or engaging in as a profession or means of livelihood

Those are the general definitions (?)... yet so much more is applied... we associate a certain character, behaviour and conduct, even a sense of appearance.
It boils down to what you do, how you do it and why you do it. Add to that mix "impression" and/or "iamge", and that generally sums up the main view of "professional".

Yet here we are, discussing various things, sometimes with differing views, sometimes with seriously opposite ideas/thoughts/feelings.
Then there are the questions, inquiries, requests and even the odd interogation.
Not to mention bad typos, spelling mistake and the occassional bit of cheek :infinite-banana:

The majority of which is easily locatable bythe public.
By our potential clients.


So... what I'm wondering is... is this a good thing?
(NOTE: I don't want to leave! :))


It's just, within five minutes, any one of us could have a potential client look stuff up on the internet, and find bosts, comments, bloggs etc... with us acting as "normal" folk - as lets face it... few people react the same on the net as they do in the office.
I admit that I do ted to be blunt, blatant and a little rude - but I would not be such to a customer or client (unless they really pushed me and I hadn't had enough coffee!).
How many of us would be so open, honest and frank - so "ourselves" in a different, "real" environ?

Further food for thought...
Would you hire a builder... if you knew he was done the local pub/club not 3 days before hand, askig how to build a wall with a new type of brick?
What about getting in an electrician who was askig about the new regulations on wiring and capacity of 5gauge dual insulated earthing?
Would you really make an order with that plastics compay down the road if you knew the things the staff were saying about the managemet?
What would you think if you coul read transcripts of conversations between the sales team members at your local showroom?

Because, for us - these are probably realities (?)


Months of work could easily be undone with a few simple comments.
Years of marketing and campaign building out the window due to a bad day, what is viewed as a stupid question/statement... and not enough coffee/tea/chocolate/medication etc.

Some "air their dirtylinen in public"... others express views/toughts that they likely wouldn't "in the office"... a few ask questions that could cause them to look less "current" or "big" than they either make out or actually are (lets face it, few of us are all knowing... and those that are, stop smiling so smugly ;))




Do you think this is me being overly edgey on the idea... or is it a potential downfall?
Should people in our fields of work ot be linkig to our sites, asking for reviews etc. as it is traceable?
Should we all be posting disclaimers at the end of our posts...
"the contents of the above are merely expressios of the individual, and have nothing to do with the company they work for" ???



:)


Just thought I'd ask.

Edited by Autocrat, 10 October 2007 - 05:29 PM.


#2 EGOL

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 05:57 PM

Should we all be posting disclaimers at the end of our posts...
"the contents of the above are merely expressios of the individual, and have nothing to do with the company they work for" ???


Sure. I've worked at places where you are allowed to have your own opinion that is different from the "company line". Sometimes those types of thoughts especially valuable and can move the company position.

On this board there have been discussions, sometimes prolonged and edgy, about owning domains that you do not use and sitewide links to designers. These give you a chance too see the other person's point of view and them to see yours. Maybe you will change your mind a bit? I know that I have.

If you take companies and employees down to the smallest level... my employees work for a company that I own and where I make the decisions. They might work for me but they can have their own opinions. I am not going to fire them if they don't agree with me on every point. At the same time, they don't speak for the company because that is my job - not theirs.

#3 sanity

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 06:03 PM

It's just, within five minutes, any one of us could have a potential client look stuff up on the internet, and find bosts, comments, bloggs etc... with us acting as "normal" folk - as lets face it... few people react the same on the net as they do in the office.
I admit that I do ted to be blunt, blatant and a little rude - but I would not be such to a customer or client (unless they really pushed me and I hadn't had enough coffee!).
How many of us would be so open, honest and frank - so "ourselves" in a different, "real" environ?

For that reason I have never written anything I'd not want potential clients to read. In the same way I suspect most of us Google potential clients. I try to act as professionally as I do in the offline world.

For a long time it was easy to hide behind the anonymity of a monitor, these days unless you keep your identity private anything you do can come back and bite.

#4 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 06:55 PM

Well - as far as I know... I've ot done anythig that is typically me... which isn't somethig to boast of really...

"what do you mean - tact and diplomacy are not types of hammers?"


Then again... I can get away with that as I own my own company and hire as I like... plus I'm pretty much and open person.
But for larger companies, either staff wise or monetary, it must be a bit of a nightmare.


...EGOL...
Nice view...and funny you should mention those posts :)
You say that you speak for your company... and quit rightly...yet do you not feel/thikn that your employees actions kind of making a sound/noise too?
We don't have to actually "say" anythig in particular for people to draw conclussions.
(I'm thiking of several work places where you had to sign some pretty invasive papers promising ot to say/do/thik/feel anything that could harm the company... including punching some moron in the pub during your holidays - they seemed to think they owned their employees!).

So in a way, and merely my tought on it...your employees, in a way, are your company... or at least a particualr face of it.
what would happen if you found some of the spouting of negatives that clients could over hear?
Would it be any different if it was in emails... or in a public forum?


...sanity...
So you're not of duty when you are here?
Work all day... and then work some more...?

I cansee the value in it though - as you are safe in the knowledgethat you have slipped up or anything that can be found could cause issues... but I don't envy you that time "in suit" as it were.

#5 sanity

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 07:06 PM

That doesn't mean I can't have fun Autocrat, of course I do. And I hope I inject my personality into my posts here and on my own site. I just choose not to treat people or say anything any differently that I would if I was with them in person. Web design is my work so in that context I behave professionally in situations reelated to that.

That's not to say I post the same elsewhere - you just won't hear about it. :)

Oh and I never wear a suit.

#6 projectphp

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 07:23 PM

The word "p[rofessionalism' leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, because, IMHO, it implies "I only do this because i am paid". Amateur is soooo much better. "I do it because I love it". The world has that a bit screwey, at least IMHO.

Should we all be posting disclaimers at the end of our posts...
"the contents of the above are merely expressios of the individual, and have nothing to do with the company they work for" ???

Disclaimers don't work, and for two reasons:
1. They are either redundant because they repeat what is already true.
2. They exist to try to stop the unstopable, and redefine what already exists.

http://www.goldmark....id-disclaimers/ is a great overview of email disclaimers, and why they are silly. I personally love the one that says "if you are not teh recipient" - it was sent to me, of course I am - " take no action, delete the email and tell our tech support" - um, which is it? No action or do soemthing?

I think a lot of issues like this, disclaimers and the like, will be worked out in the next generation, because "manners", or the more generic social niceties, take time to unfurl.

Consider: you don't chew with your mouth open. That rule is as old as the hills. But mobile phones? They are so new, we aren't (collectively) sure if talking on them on public transport is Kosher (I vote yes - as long as you speak at a reasonable volume).

Forums, blogs and the internet generally is like that. What the rules and expectations are is anyone's guess. The rules will sort themselves out in time, but unfortunately at least a part of that will be spectatular flame
outs, where someone will make a monumental error, and the collective Internet will say "Oh, Ok, that is the line right there - don't do XYZ".

Disclaimers on posts are silly, because they either are an admission all posts are gospel, or wasted because everyone knows they ARE NOT gospel.

My $0.02 (which is worth almost $0.02 US now :) )

#7 cre8pc

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 07:26 PM

A male friend of mine, who is recognized as a leader in the SEO industry, noted speaker, well respected, etc., once remarked that he envied my ability to let my emotions show in my blog.

I thought it was so sad he felt he could not do the same.

For me, professionalism is defined as integrity, honesty, gratitude for what we know and being humble about what we do not.

#8 Ruud

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 07:31 PM

Well... I'm quite open on the web. I use my real name, real photos -- and my real voice.

Is that voice the uncensored, unashamed, unaltered, unfiltered "real" me?

Are you nuts? My mother is still alive and if she would find out I act in that way she'd open her chat client and give me a good talking to. If I'm lucky -- otherwise she'd cross the ocean to teach me not to shame her like that.

No, both online and offline my voice is filtered by upbringing, conventions, ideals, control, respect and self-respect.

True, the way you impatiently treated that cash register person is less likely to "haunt" you than that blog comment you made. One is virtually anonymous, the other is not. One is lost in time -- the other is permanent (archive.org, anyone?).

But should those considerations of public accountability lead our behavior? I hope not. I hope we hold ourselves accountable.

Would you hire a builder... if you knew he was done the local pub/club not 3 days before hand, askig how to build a wall with a new type of brick?


Goes back to maturity. If you think The Professionals know best, if you expect The Doctor to be God-like, if you're astounded -- nay, almost offended! -- by the idea that the plumber needs to keep up with new technologies too... then no, one would not hire this builder.

If you see professionals as people, as human beings holding a particular job, then one is more likely to expect them to behave as such.

Of course the make or break, and this is what you might actually be referring to, is the "don't fake it" principle.

If, given the knowledge you have just described, I talk to this person and he claims or suggests that he has years of experience with this particular type of brick -- again, no, I would not hire him. Why hire a liar?

But between someone who embraces and learns about the newest techniques, some of which might directly benefit my wallet, and those who come to the table with yesteryear's knowledge, I do prefer the inquisitive person you described in your example.


Again, all this goes back to maturity. And as we sit here and discuss this I think we're a lucky bunch. We are mature, if not of mind then at least of age, while a whole online generation is posting its brain out to YouTube, MySpace, FaceBook et al. Most of that material is innocent, both in intent and nature, but some of it will bite you in the butt later on...

For Some, Online Persona Undermines a Résumé
Job candidates getting tripped up by Facebook
Employers Utilize Facebook to Research Potential Employees

#9 SEOigloo

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 07:38 PM

For that reason I have never written anything I'd not want potential clients to read. In the same way I suspect most of us Google potential clients. I try to act as professionally as I do in the offline world.


Sophie says this beautifully. Small surprise, then, that she has struck me from the first as a truly professional person very much worth listening to. :)

I think this is a good topic, Autocrat, and will be most interested to read others' input on this.

You've asked if one would hire a builder who they saw asking how to build a wall with a certain type of bricks. I think the answer to this is that you should hire a builder who is open about his level of skill. The very fact that everything one says on the Internet is public means that no service provider should attempt to present themselves as more highly skilled than they actually are. The easiness with which this could backfire, from a single comment left on a single blog or forum, makes it a foolhardy practice.

I think, perhaps, the innerworkings of our industry are a bit unusual in their public accessibility. I know one of the things I've often wondered at is the frequent references to drinking I see on various blogs. It may be that the strong presence of young folk in this industry has created a somewhat party-like atmosphere. People talk on their blogs as though they were amongst friends, but I have always wondered what potential clients must think of that. I really appreciate the laid-back atmosphere in the SEO/marketing community, but as with your bricklayer illustration, how would you feel if you found a dentist's blog where he made frequent references to getting blitzed? Would you really want him to work on your teeth? The potential for an assumption of alcoholism is one that I believe professionals have tried to avoid in the more traditional corporate world.

What do others think about this specific example? I always get the feeling when I read references like this that the blogger is trying to be casual and laugh with their friends about good times, under the assumption that everybody drinks for fun and is 'in on the joke'. I think I understand that they are attempting to give their blog a social atmosphere. But I am left wondering what place this has on a professional blog, that represents the service provider not just to their friends in the industry, but to the whole world. Clearly, it would be a bad marketing effort if you'd ever liked to be hired to consult with Alcoholics Anonymous, but it also might be a bad marketing effort if any of your readers are looking to hire someone who is on the ball. Being drunk doesn't really give that impression of sharpness one would assume SEOs need to convey.

Or, am I simply missing something here? Have others concluded that the readership of SEO-type blogs is so insular that the readers are your friends, in front of whom you can let it all hang out, rather than prospective clients who might be put off by the idea of hiring someone who publicizes themselves as a drinker? Maybe drinking is simply stamped as acceptable in our culture at large, and wouldn't be viewed the same way if as if an SEO was constantly talking about getting stoned?

I'd really like to know if anyone else has ever thought about this. Thanks!
Miriam

#10 EGOL

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 08:10 PM

So in a way, and merely my tought on it...your employees, in a way, are your company... or at least a particualr face of it. what would happen if you found some of the spouting of negatives that clients could over hear? Would it be any different if it was in emails... or in a public forum?


I think that you know the answer... that employee would be in trouble.

I would probably give a very good warning if this was the first time the employee had done this. I would be disappointed that the employee did not express the negative feelings to me before taking them public.

It would be very important to discuss the root of these negative issues. If it is something that we can resolve then we would work towards it. I believe that most negative things can be resolved, however, there are situations - often temporary - where negative things must be delt with.

I work very hard to run a successful business and my family and employees and their families depend upon it. If one employee perseveres in damaging our ability to operate then that employee should find a new place to work.

Look at it this way... if the employee has a lot of negatives then he/she is not pleased with the employment environment and it is best for all if the relationship ends. It would be best for everyone if this change is made.

#11 sanity

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 01:59 AM

Sophie says this beautifully. Small surprise, then, that she has struck me from the first as a truly professional person very much worth listening to. :)


Miriam, you've made me blush. Thank you so much. :)

#12 AbleReach

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 07:15 AM

If you think The Professionals know best, if you expect The Doctor to be God-like, if you're astounded -- nay, almost offended! -- by the idea that the plumber needs to keep up with new technologies too... then no, one would not hire this builder.

Ahhh, but online anyone can be a God-like big shot or do their darndest to look just like one - it's a freedom and a curse.

For that reason I have never written anything I'd not want potential clients to read.

And some people say what they want potential clients to see, without it necessarily being the truth, and that's not limited to SEOs!

IMHO web marketing people should go out of their way to show that they are personable and reputable (if they really are!) in order to counteract any perception that the Internet is impersonal and full of scammers.

#13 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 09:53 AM

wow - tons of responses...

...sanity...
:D "in suit" simply means remaining in work mode... I had it applied at a down-dressed compay I worked at ... though not one of us wore a tire or what would be termedas a "suit"... it's when at work, on route to/from, and when out with work colleagues, we found alot of us remained "business like"... which takes alittle effort after a few pints :)

That's not to say I post the same elsewhere - you just won't hear about it.

LOL



...projectphp...
The problem is that the words hae more than a single meaning/implication.
Professional = Paid for // For a living // with skill and/or expertise
Amateur = Not paif // for interest, hobby, fun // without skill and/or expertise

So the problem is there is what I would call a negative on the Amateur label (which I agree, is a shame, as I love my work).

The disclaimer stuff was funny - but iunfortunately they are a kind of necessary eveil - esp. in some situations where people can take something in a different context.
Take a post in the Women in SEO thread... there is what I consider a humerous comment about defaulting to find women attractive.
Yet that could jsut as easily be seen as a sexist comment by some, to others an open invite.
Perspective is a pain - yet can cause a lot of damage.
Plus you haev to cover your rear due to certain people... (I hope I don't get slapped for the "dumb" stuff again)... but did you not see about the women, the wet cat and the microwave?
Whether true or not... people do stupid things (that is in comparison to sensible!!! ok?)... and disclaimers are there to prevent silly mistakes/misunderstandings being held agaisnt a provider.

Yet I do agree... some of them are ridiculous.



...cre8pc...
I would like to say "bang on" - if only more people had that view.



...Ruud...
Lovely :D

I'm not sure if I'd use the word "maturity" ... maybe "reasonableness" or "moderation" would suit better?
Infact... as with the terms Professional and Amateur... it is the definitions that trip people up.

Phrasing aside, I agree with the message/context... though I might still think twice about the electrician ;)

As for the "mother" aspect... I feel my self incrediably spoilt and free'r thanmost... I'm very much "myself" most of the time... and though this may cause problems and some "interesting" occurences (I insulted the entire British Brazilian JuJitsu team with several rude words), I'm always happy in the knowledge that I never let something go by that I shouldn't have, that I've never had the need to hide something, and that I've always said/done what I think/feel is correct.
Then again... I admit thaere have been times when I've tought "sod - should have thought twice before saying/doing"... so maybe having that little voice going "what would mother say" would be of benefit too me (or atleast permit the chance for less altercations).

Wonder how life would be if I had that... may even have made life easier for me.
Darn - now I'm thinkig again ;)



...SEOigloo...
Glad you like it... it's partly due to your comments that I got thinking about it... quite a bit actually :)

I like the Blogg comparison... and thats the type of thing I'm getting at...
In a way... a part of ourselves that would take time to discover in other industries can more often than not be found quite readily.

Those that use the internet for publicly axccessible communications are more "at risk" than those that don't... for the simple reason of being "themselves" to any and all... where as in "reality", peole tend to be more gaurded, wary and take time before beign so open with others.



...EGOL...
I actually worked hard not to consider what your resposne could be.
From personal experience, the results can vary greatly;
I've known of companies that didn't bat an eyelid where at a private party cnosisting of several employees and a few clietns, two staff memebers aired alot of complaints and issues with the company, including some that directly affected/related to some of the clients.
They lost 1 of those clients... yet 2 others came in within a week and wanted to discuss some issues.
Neither of the employees were reprimanded in any way!
The company viewed it as being out of work time, in personal time and expressing personal views, not company policy.

On the other hand, I've worked at companies that basicalyl want to own your life - you cannot say or do anything that could cause harm to the company.
No shouting matches in public, no making a disgrace of yourself due to inebriation, not even mentioning anything work related in your home life.
If you broke any laws, instant cause for dismissal.
If you mentioned anything to do with work, instant cause for dismissal.
No matter how minor the offenec or the comment - you would be told not to come back - they would even send your affects on to you rather than let you back in.

Two extremes... and I don't agree with either of them.


Look at it this way... if the employee has a lot of negatives then he/she is not pleased with the employment environment and it is best for all if the relationship ends. It would be best for everyone if this change is made.


I would say it depends on the nature of the greivances/negatives. I've had jobs that I loved, worked with others that I really enjoyed the company of... yet found certain staff members and company practices disgusting ad plain nasty.
Should I have left? No more high earnings, no more friendly team members, chummy associates or even fantastic clients?
All because there were a few darn backwards rules, hypocrisy and what I would term as moronic employess of the company?
Hell no - I asked if I could call a meeting and bring u pa few issues that I believe, if found worth while resolving, and acted upon, would greatly enhace the company.
Of course - they threatend to fire me after detailing the issues - but at least I made the effort to do what I, and many others, considered a worthwhile thing.

So though your point is valid... I think it depends on the scenario... as much as the other examples we are providing.
(Then again, you company, your policies, your staff... I take it for granted you know know how to handle it best, no matter the situation.)




...AbleReach...
Ah - I forgot that bit... :D
Regarding the whole "image" thing... it is common practice to appear "larger than life", it is a common ploy and one that is well established.

There are literally thousands of companies that started off in basements, backrooms, warehouses and garages... that gave the impression of having big premises, lots of money, tons of staff... and now they do.

Many folk will assume little business with little service, and money with success.

So altering the image somewhat is always going to be something that happens for many businesses. The distinction I think, lies in claim and the conduct... words and actions.

Then again, from the negative perspective... false claims suggest dishonesty and unreliabilty. It encourages distrust, and if caugt, could quite rapidly destroy a business.

If you state you can do X... and are then found enquiring about X... you should be shot... not just because you said you knew and didn't... but because you got caught!
Okay.. a little immature... but if you are going to do something... do it right, even if what you are doing is wrong! (?)






All in all... it seems so much "shades of grey"... which I personally dislike.
I'ts a little "immature" - but I prefer hard lines and clear marks of distinction. I like to categorise and breakdown everything in to measurables facets... as I find "shades" and "blurred lines" can cause additional problems.

So, with that perspective in mind...

How we behave on line is potentially important.
It is not only a means for opening doors and furthering our own image, it is a potential route for causing our own downfalls.
The maaner in which we coduct ourselves "virtually" can have input on our "reality" - for folks like us, there border is barely existent.

I view the options as being...
* Be "in suit" whenever their is a potential danger
* Listen to "mother" before saying or doing (thats for both "virtual" and "reality")
* Be yourself no matter what
* Get a false identity for "virtual" situations



Just to be somewhat hypocritical (which I am kicking myself for aeven as I type)... I think a mix of the above may be the better approach.

You should always be true to yourself... but this does not mean not tempering thoughts/words/actions before applying them, nor does it mean you cannot be yourself without having a bit of polish and refinement.

Of course... having a "persona" for online interactions would also be a benefit... and doesn't have to be "not you" (?), simply a slightly different, possibly more thoughtful and careful you.


Darn!

I hate shades of grey and cannot believe I think that a mix is better :(
I'm so disappointed in myself... and now I'm wonderig what my mother would say about my hypocrisy!

#14 A.N.Onym

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 10:15 AM

I think writing on your own professional blog and putting a disclaimer that your posts are only your opinion and shouldn't be considered as advice/professional help isn't good.

Other than that, professionalism is open to interpretation. For example, as EGOL said, if only you blog on your companies site or another blog, it doesn't matter if there's a disclaimer (much).

#15 Black_Knight

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 10:31 AM

Before I get into the main part, just a small note that projectphp is entirely correctly using the word Amatuer - it literally means someone who does a task "for the love of it" - its from the Latin word for love.

That said, let me settle down to respond to an issue that is one I am passionate about.

Professionalism. To act in a professional manner.

If I have a solicitor, and I seek advice regarding an area of law in which she is not an expert, I naturally fully expect that she will consult with someone more expert in that field. That is professionalism. Of course, if I had approached that solicitor for the first time with this particular issue, and we did not have an ongoing bsiness relationship, I would have expected her to inform me that this was not her field of expertise, and probably direct me to a colleague or contact more suited to my needs in the first place. That too is professionalism.

It in no way diminishes the professionalism of the hypothetical solicitor that she is not an expert in the particular specialist field of law that I need counsel on. It does not make her less of a professional in terms of legal expertise, she just does not have the specialised field of that expertise that a very specific matter might require, but as a professional, serves me with professionalism.

Okay, so lets look at another hypothetical example.

I'll pick a common one. I have a web designer. He's building my site, and tells me that I should buy into his SEO service for a little extra. With that service, he'll add in search friendly features to the build. Also if I take up an ongoing SEO service contract, he'll submit my site to the engines and perform SEO to get me high search rankings and lots of sales. Wouldn't that sound great to an average customer? And he seems so very professional, what with all the contracts and a very nice manner.

But there's a huge warning sign here. If he knows how to make a site 'search friendly' then surely that's a fundamental part of any build anyway? Why would he only include search friendly features into a build if I pay extra? It suggests to me that his 'normal' build is somewhat sub-standard and probably suffers poor accessibility. This is not so professional is it?

Then there's this business of submitting to the search engines and telling me I'll get high rankings and lots of sales. It all sounds a bit like a formulaic sales pitch that promises things he can't be sure to deliver. That practice is always unprofessional.

But he didn't post any questions or rants in forums or blogs. He keeps a low profile, apart from spending money on some good advertising and promotion, which may be one reason he really isn't so smart about building and offering a decent level site right from the get-go. I can't see any way that it is cheaper' or less work to not build a search friendly site, so there's something wrong there.


It seems to me that presenting oneself with professionalism isn't about being ultra-serious, dry, or on best behaviour. There is plenty of room to let your hair down and be off-guard and still be professional. The biggest thing in both of the examples, and the one that has bugged me the most in forums for almost a decade, is people falsely presenting their abilities and expertise.

Charlatans and snake-oil salesmen for an obvious example, no matter how pretty and smart their manner, are not professionals in the field they usually claim. They are professionals in an entirely different skill, that of the long con or short con.

On the other hand, some of the most expert SEOs I've known are often a bit 'rough around the edges' to say the least. Especially those that are specialised mainly in finding and exploiting the flaws in the algorithms, and the weaknesses of machine-logic.

How you blog, speak, or interact isn't the real issue of professionalism. Honesty is a much larger part of it. Honesty with oneself as much as one's clients and peers. A professional has honour. It is really as simple as that.

#16 swainzy

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 12:24 PM

Miriam, I have to agree with your post completely. Too much drinking and that's a sloppy mistake to be mentioning it anywhere on the net when you are a professional. All a person has is their reputation. How does one want theirs to appear?

Autocrat, I don't see the need to be rude and proud of it (you've mentioned this a couple of times although correct me if I have misunderstood you). There is never an excuse to be rude. It's disrespectful. I consider myself blunt and to the point but I am not rude. I believe a person can cultivate this balance easily.

What is out there on the net never goes away. It's up to each person as to how they want to be thought of. When I hire a professional, if I think they drink and use, or if they are late, or they say one thing and do another, no bueno. It's too easy to find out who they are on the net. I want to deal with clear headed honest people that are competely present when they are dealing with me. That's crucial to success.

Edited by swainzy, 11 October 2007 - 12:24 PM.


#17 Ron Carnell

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 12:51 PM

Nicely said, Ammon. While I agree in principle with everything you said, there's two points I'd like to quickly explore further.

The biggest thing in both of the examples, and the one that has bugged me the most in forums for almost a decade, is people falsely presenting their abilities and expertise.

I think the word falsely, while entirely accurate, is also a little misleading. There are some few who, as you imply, try to fool clients about their abilities and expertise. I think there are far more, however, who are fooling themselves about what they can do. They've read a book or two on the techniques for open heart surgery and suddenly think they're ready to pick up a scalpel. Clearly, these optimists (I'm being kind) are no less dangerous than the charlatans. And, of course, no less unprofessional.

How you blog, speak, or interact isn't the real issue of professionalism. Honesty is a much larger part of it.

Again, I completely agree, but at the same time I don't think how one blogs, speaks or interacts should be too quickly dismissed.

I have warned many of my creative writing friends that they can't easily hide behind the mask called fiction. No matter how imaginative their story, there can always be found a reflection of the author. One cannot write more than a few paragraphs without revealing something about themselves to a discerning reader. I think that's equally true of blogs, speaking, and interacting with others on the Internet. Honor and honesty are, indeed, paramount. And both, I think, are revealed by what a person inadvertently reveals about themselves in their written words. Over the course of time, no one can hide who they really are (though many try).

#18 Respree

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 03:13 PM

I suppose if you ask 100 professionals what they think the word means, you'll not likely get the exact same responses from any two.

Most commonly, people think professional as being the difference in getting paid or not.

I would disagree.

Through my travels, I've come across many individuals who do get paid (some very handsomely, I might add), whom I would not consider to be professional, or to put more fine a point on it, not 'very' professional. Sure, they 'are' professional in the sense that they perform a service for a living.

Where I take my little detour, is how they are perceived by others.

Although there are many aspects and attributes of a professional, the foremost word that comes to my mind is integrity. Can I trust what they have to say? Have they ever said or done anything to betray that trust? Are they honest and forthright about their business dealings? Do they deal with tough issues instead of candy coat them or sweep them under the rug, unbeknownst to their colleagues (all in the name of perception management)? Are they crass or rude to others? Do they look like they just came from the beach on their day off or ready for a serious business meeting? Are they courteous, respectful and tolerant of others, or the extreme opposite?

I could keep writing questions similar to this (there are many more), but all of the answers make up a certain 'perception' in the minds of those who come into contact with you, whether it be a colleague, co-worker, vendor, business partner or similar.

I think on public boards like this where your online identify leads to your business; you need to be tactful about what you say, if you want to manage this perception.

Many people just type away frantically at the keyboard, saying whatever pops into their mind at the time, oblivious of the fact that once they hit the submit button, it will be there for all (including your potential clients) to see. Don't be fooled into thinking that because you're among colleagues here, a potential client will not take the time to research whom they're about to give $100,000 to (wouldn't you?). If they came across a post you made in anger or without any forethought, such as "Man, what I day I had. I loath my clients. To be honest, I'm just in it for the money," don't be surprised if you don't get or lose a promising deal.

Anyway, that's my take on it.

Edited by Respree, 11 October 2007 - 05:35 PM.


#19 iamlost

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 04:03 PM

Clerk: Anything?
VAN: I want a very sincere necktie.
Clerk: I beg your pardon?
VAN: I want something that makes me seem sincere. You know, honest; genuine; upright; trustworthy.
Clerk: Well... um, here's a handpainted one in four colors; at thirty-five dollars. Is that sincere enough?
VAN: I think, my friend, any more sincerity would be downright foolhardy.

An interesting thread.

There are two woven threads to professional behaviour:
1. technical training, skill, expertise, knowledge. Without a certain competence in one's vocation one is not 'professional'. Logically, therefore, one can lose prior 'professional' stature due to a loss of proficiency.

2. the way one conducts oneself and treats with others. Without a certain standard in one's behaviour one is not 'professional'. One can, therefore, lose professional reputation due to generally perceived unacceptable conduct.

As has been mentioned the web has collapsed the boundaries between local and global, private and public, personal and professional. I expect it will be at least a generation before some new stability and ease with rampant information, disinformation, and misinformation occurs. The agony of change and how best to adapt. Up the Luddites!

One concern often overlooked when discussing behaviour is societal differences: behavioural standards differ, personally as well as professionally, by region, by generation, etc. These differences are important, especially as web projects often transgress boundaries, because ignorance can cost you clients.

The truth is that one's professional behaviour is judged differently by each client. The dress and deportment norm for a web2.0 start-up is not that of an American bank is not that of a traditional Chinese importer is not that of a Japanese multinational is not that of a Arkansan quilting co-op...

I believe that a professional needs not only to know the technical requirements but the social ones as well. I have taken jobs, not by lower price or better qualifications, but by dressing and behaving to the client's comfort level.

This does not mean changing the core 'you' nor mimicking some stereotype; rather it is acknowledging the client as a person and demonstrating an affinity.

#20 ladesignz

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 04:30 PM

I learned a very good lesson on professionalism and tact right here in this forum. I submitted the site of my new employer to the website hospital. I made some very unprofessional comments in the post regarding my opinion of the site and those comments read my the lead developer and graphic designer on my team.
A year and half later we can laugh about it but it was not a good way to start out with a new team.

Today I watch very careful the level of professionalism I display on line as one never knows when big brother is watching ..hehehe

#21 SEOigloo

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 04:30 PM

Donna,
Thank you so much for responding to my question. I appreciate that. Maybe it's a tough question, but an important one if one is striving to appear reliable and clearheaded. It is interesting to me to know that you feel the same way I do about this.

Garrick -

"Man, what I day I had. I loath my clients. To be honest, I'm just in it for the money," don't be surprised if you don't get or lose a promising deal.


I think this is a really important point you bring up. Sometimes, it could be seriously tempting to complain publicly about clients, out of desperation for some support and understanding from peers who have been there, too. I have seen bloggers handle this better than spilling their guts by turning their frustration around into a helpful post for clients and service providers intended to bring education and understanding into situations that are common and difficult. This more creative approach to tackling frustrations in one's work life wins my admiration, because it rises above knee jerk impulses to rant and turns it into an educational effort with the goal of better client relations in mind.

Ammon-

How you blog, speak, or interact isn't the real issue of professionalism. Honesty is a much larger part of it. Honesty with oneself as much as one's clients and peers.


In the end, this is correct. I agree. One should try to be true to one's self to avoid a life of inner conflict. If it is an integral part of a person's style that they lay all their cards on the table at all times, I suppose not doing so would be unnatural for them, and almost a deception. In other words, if showing your rough edges is an important part of being 'you' (not you, Ammon, but someone), maybe doing so is honest. On the other hand, I can't help but feel that sensitivity to an appropriate division of private and personal life makes working relations easier. My clients come to me for web design, or copywriting, or whatever...not to hear that I had a fight with my husband last night, or that I have a headache, or that I think they should stop eating meat, or that I'm Catholic, or that I have anxiety disorder, or whatever it is that may be the whole picture of me. They are coming to me for my skills, in other words, not my hangups.

Perhaps this kind of compartmentalization is artificial, but it may be necessary to survival. When I hire a plumber, I only need him to fix my sink, not to convert me to his religion or tell me how hard he partied last night. On yet another hand, there may be some clients one truly becomes friends with over a long period of time and discovers they can speak with about almost anything. Yet, I would still advocate using the telephone for the most private kind of communications rather than the Internet. They are very different tools.

I'm enjoying reading everyone's thoughts on this subject ;)

#22 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 06:41 PM

Okay - I was part way into writting a response Hours ago, but had to go training... and since there have been even more posts... cool.

So.. where to begin...?


...Black_Knight...
I didn't state that ...projectphp... was incorrect. If you re-read my resposne, you will see that I put forth the general definitions. Those defintions for Profesional/Amateur cover Paid/Unpaid, for Profit/for Fun, Skilled/Unskilled.
It is the fact that there are multiple defintions, which may not even be applicable depending on context, that can cause some confusion.

The examples were fantastic!

I also appreciate the "falsehood" issue causing ire - but there is room for a little "self enlargment" when promoting oneself... being a little "larger than life" is a common practice, and many advocate it, (of course, that doesn't mean it's good or correct!).
That aside, I whole heartedly agree that "lies" should not be told... trying to draw the line between the enlargening oneself and blatant fibbing though might take a while.

As for the "on best behaviour" and "rough around the edges"... I wasn't focusing on that - I was more aiming for how we are online, what we type, how we express tings, and how it may be perceived or have consequences in the "real" world... (which is kind of hard to diferentiate if you spend most of your time and work efforts online).

I most definetly agree with your final comment... that of honesty and honour.
If you are not true to ones-self, are you able to be true to another?



...swainzy...
Okay - I assume you are reffering to the JuJitsu team?
Well, please let me know what you would do when you are attending a renowned person, and there are people there being rude, forceful, insulting and offencisive to jsut about everyone else there. They have ignored your attempts at subtlety, were incrediably rude to someone when asked politely to alter their behaviour, then proceeded to push over several people so they could get to the front?
I myself draw the line at seeing a female getting shoved.
Now, in that situation, if you ahve a better method of stopping a group of people, embarrasing them so severely in front of many others, and getting them to behave, please tell me, and I will endevour to try it in future.

I also view the reasoning that "rudeness is not necessary" right up there with "violence is not needed" - sorry, but I disagree with both. If I'm attending a dinner and someone shows up that was not invited, I will ask them to leave... though that is actually rude as both custom and civilaty dictate that I should infact offer them a seat at the table and offer them food.
There are times when a much disliked measure or action is a very effective means of accomplishing a task.

As for being "proud" of my rudeness - no.
I was proud of the fact that I had been myself,and dealt with the situation as I saw fit, with no further need to follow form or protocol (both of which had failed).
I may be considered rude by some people - then again, it depends on various social, personal and locale factors as to whether I'm rude or not. Please note, if you have found, or do find me or my comments in any way offensive, I do apologise.


...Ron Carnell...
I'm learning that you have a knack for viewing thigs from some very different angles, and findig new ways of looking at things ;)

Over the course of time, no one can hide who they really are (though many try).


Brilliant!



...Respree...
Kind of to the point!
That, though an extreme example at the end, iswahat I am aiming at with this topic.

If you react on the internet as you would at home/withfriends/away from the work place... the chances are "you will come a cropper" as they say.

No matter how tempting, to be so "open" about such things could prove fatal - no matter if it's true (which covers the honesty/honour), said politely and with tact (another part of professionalism) - you could still suffer the consequences.



...iamlost...
That quote was a hoot and a half :)

As to the rest of the post... as with ...respree... to the nub of things without a doubt.
Your closing comment is one I will get back to in a moment... as I tihkn, along with a few other choie pieces, it sheds light on something that I myself have overlooked so far in this thread.



...ladesignz...
Wonderful example... and commiserations on it happening to you :(
Still, I guess it could have been a lot worse than it was... so maybe a harsh lesson, but more than a worthwhile one.

It also highlights my point almost to the letter.



...SEOigloo...
I liked the explanation of how some of the bloggers have handled it - I find it not only interesting, but I think it rather clever.

Again, as with ...respree... and ...iamlsot..., your post brought something else to the fore for me which I hadn't paid the attention it warrants.



So...
The aspect that I have, up until now missed, but thankfully others haev mentioned, is the other parties.. the clietns or those viewing your actions.
The perspective of others, their take on things and their possible reactions.

I prime example, (and none to far away ;)), is that it is more than possible for what you "say" online to be taken in a completely different manner than intended, to be skewed slightly or misinterpreted.

Without even having to bemoan clients or the work place, simply the use of certain words, phrases or even emphasis can cause others to draw conclusions that are varied,and you have little control over that!
To compuound the issue, if you are bemoaning, slating something/someone/somewhere, then the viewers own views will colour these thigs further... this can range from the disastrous total disagreement and disbelief you could so openly voice such things, to the actually beneficial and they agree/applaud etc.



Well, in the last post, I stated that I was of the opinion that a mixture of applying a little thought and care, retaining some of your working ethics and being yourself would be a reasonable way to ensure you do not perform any amazingly damaging online errors, whilst still being you.

After reading the more recent posts...that hasn't really changed - if anything it has reinfored the idea that you have to becareful, and remain some what "in suit", as you are still relating something to do with work.


We haev covered most of the common aspects of professionalism... and tough I would say some of it doesn't necessarily apply to my origanal idea for this thread... it has most definetly been interesting and enlightening.
I will even go so far as to say that it has not only made me sit back and think... but even consider revising how I "behave" whilst online... (lets face it, it is defintely behaviour and not simply remotely communicating).


Goes to show how much power the word can have, particualrly if not somewhat restrained by forethought and "professional" behaviour.

#23 cre8pc

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 07:00 PM

Taking this topic for a small spin around a corner...

Questions.

If you have an established reputation (presumably a good one) and align yourself with a company/individuals with a rocky reputation, does this mess with the perception that you are a "professional"?

In other words, is who you associate with a factor, or not, in being considered a professional person?

How much of perception is based on rumor, gossip or actual fact? (Does this matter to you?)

Another way of looking at this...

I was talking to someone in the industry today who has been to many SEO conferences and is well aware of the reputation for SEO's to act as if these events are high school reunions. I told him that although I witnessed some drunk persons, those same individuals are quite different when they're working. I knew this from personal experiences working with various people.

How much of reputation management is a factor in what we might call "being a professional"? (If at all?)

#24 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 07:13 PM

I wouldn't say it's taking it round the corner... simply taking a side step from the "virtual" in to the "real" world.

I'm afraid to say that it can make a fairly large difference.
It does depend on who see's it, who talks about it etc... different people apply different weights/measures on to things... but you are pretty sureto find that the majority will ahve some view on it, and it can be applied to associates.

It doesn't matter what you do - if you are known to deal with certain types of people/business, you are likely to be associated with them, and somewhat get their label as well.
Thats people in general for you - look at how politics works - it's association and proximity to desirables that is used to increaze chances, whilst avoiding undesireables to prevent lowering chances.

#25 SEOigloo

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 09:35 PM

That's a really interesting question, Kim. ;)

I've never been to the conferences, but have read the talk afterwards about the parties. Who is at these parties...is it just industry folk or business owners who are looking to hire someone brilliant?

My guess would be that if it's just industry folk and there is an internal acceptance of drinking as a form of socialization, no one would care. It wouldn't affect whom you'd call on Monday morning for an opinion on your blog post. Unless, of course, the person offended you at the party. But...if it's business owners and they are looking around a room of potential consultants and they see that some of them are wasted, this can't make a very good impression. But I could be completely wrong about this.

I just can't say how people, in the norm, would view this. That's why I asked specifically about this subject. I sometimes have a hard time determining what social attitudes are. Maybe anyone would view a party as a party, and wouldn't make any judgments at all about a person's professionalism from their social activities. Maybe there's a dividing line here? Maybe, in the norm, young people view other people drinking as funny or pleasant, but would feel that a 65 year old drunk woman was sad, unfortunate, slovenly? Attitudes about this are a bit complex, perhaps. I just don't know. What do you think?

Miriam

#26 iamlost

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 10:12 PM

If you have an established reputation (presumably a good one) and align yourself with a company/individuals with a rocky reputation, does this mess with the perception that you are a "professional"?

In other words, is who you associate with a factor, or not, in being considered a professional person?

It depends on why you are there and how the 'bad' company behaves after you join.

I know an airline that only got to keep operating because of the person they brought in to overhaul their maintenance department. His rep with the authorities gave the company time to change and continue. His rep saved them and the positive result hyped his rep.

However, initially the industry conversation was that something must be wrong with him because 'they only hire incompetents and old has-beens'. People's knowledge of the 'bad' company tarnished his rep immediately. If the company had fallen his rep would have diminished as well.

Our business is young so there is more flexibility than some. Can you imagine a noted surgeon setting up shop with a notorious quack? We are starting to see some 'lines in the sand', i.e. spammers, scrapers, etc., but not yet walls. Part of that, of course, is that there are few legal restraints and fewer penalties; most boundaries are individual or proprietary ethical constructs.

For those that do or believe they might work in-house I would suggest that who you hang with might mean a great deal to a now or future employer. It is likely their industry is rather staid in comparison.

How much of perception is based on rumor, gossip or actual fact? (Does this matter to you?)

If the person has:
* mucho celebrity, i.e. Matt Cutts: 80% rumour and gossip; 20% derived from his commentary; 0% actual fact.
* some celebrity, i.e. cre8pc: 33% rumour and gossip; 66% derived from her commentary; 1% actual fact.
* nada celebrity, i.e. iamlost: 0% rumour and gossip (iamlost is so boring); 100% derived from my commentary (iamlost is 100% inert gas); 0% actual fact (proof that iamlost doesn't actually exist)

Yes, I matter. No actually, I don't. Somewhere in there is an answer.

...reputation for SEO's to act as if these events are high school reunions.
...I witnessed some drunk persons, those same individuals are quite different when they're working. I knew this from personal experiences working with various people.

How much of reputation management is a factor in what we might call "being a professional"?

Reputation management will become an increasing important consideration. When you are your business (Kim Krause Berg) or the face of your business (Matt Cutts) to many people you are the company. It is that simple.

Not so long ago convention hi-jinks were known within the 'group'. Now they are uploaded to Flickr and analysed on multiple blogs. Some clients only care about results, many more care about appearances.

Silly or gross behaviour is to clients as developing for only one browser is to traffic. It artificially restricts ROI.

#27 projectphp

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:03 AM

Off Topic offtopicCool adsense on this thread

I think "professionalism" and "good sense" are being mixed up a bit here.

If it applies to all of life, it is just good sense. "Professionalism" relates really either to pay or to unique work situations, such as honesty and discloure.

I think talking publicly about stuff on the web fullstop is bad form. It isn't unprofessional, it is just potentially amaging.

Professionalism is pretty much about frank and fearless advice. I don't understand, to my personal detriment on occasion, why profesionals avoid telling the truth. Playing the game to get things fixed, and it is often a game of finessing egos and playing politics, starts with pure honesty, from what the client can expect and hope for, to what they are getting.

#28 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 06:27 AM

...projectphp...
I can appreciate and sympathise with the honesty issue - Though people along the lines of ...swainzy... seem to haev mastered the arts of tact, diplomacy and "well turned phrases" to handle situations... I seem to retain a bluntness and sometimes off hand manner when being very "up-front"... and this can cause issues.

I wouldn't say it's unprofessional to be honest - but I do agree that how you "approach" something will make a difference, and could be construed as differing degree's of professionalism.
(See - I would have said "tackled"... which is aggressive - instead I say "approach" - I'm learning :infinite-banana:)

As for the games of ego etc... I've never understood the rules so don't play the games - I'm kind of dumb in the fact that I still believe it's what you do and how you do it that should be rewarded, not playing nice and sweet to those aboe you.
(Which may explain why promotions only ever came in small companies and not large ones, where the political playground seems so much more important than the workroom.)

#29 Feydakin

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 07:17 AM

There are posts of mine online that are really over the top.. But I don't let them bother me, they are part of what makes me me.. I know that I have lost some business in the past simply because of my online appearance, but I also know that I've had more people appreciate my sometimes aggressive behavior.. They know that if I see something totally line I'm not afraid to call someone out on it..

I have toned down over the last few years, right about the time the kid matured and got her life under control (I wonder if those two things are related?).. But I still get tons of private requests for clarification on a wide variety of topics..

I think that trying to keep how you look in a professional light in mind all the time can lead to you looking somewhat false.. But if you are consistently abusive without the proper balance of knowledge it can be a bad thing.. of course it may just be entirely too early in the morning for me to be trying to be philosophical

#30 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 07:27 AM

I think that was about perfect - then again I'm probably bias as thats how I tend to think :)

I'm not sure if being knowledgable will off-set being abusive (would be nice though)... but a tiny bit of restraint may go a long way - so maybe being "assertive" instead of "aggressive" is a better approach?
(Which always makes me giggle - haev you ever looked up assertive/aggressive? If not, pls do so and see if you see the paradox :infinite-banana:)

Edited by Autocrat, 12 October 2007 - 07:27 AM.


#31 Feydakin

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 05:26 PM

I used to own a tech company.. 13 years in the trenches.. At about the 11 year mark I started not caring.. Around the 12 year mark I started hanging up on, or tripling my rate, to "problem clients".. At about 13 years I started telling them what I really thought about them..

Sold the business and took some time off then switched careers.. Much happier now, but it's only been about 5 years :)

But the thing I noticed was that the "problem clients" put up with me for several reasons, regardless of my rate.. (I charged one client $150 to turn a computer on by pushing the little green button on the front of the PC)..

They put up with me because

1. I knew what I was doing and was usually in and out of there faster than most people could get there..
2. They had already put every other tech guy in the area through hell and no one would even talk to them..

I see the same thing in SEO circles.. Problem clients are the ones that will put up with the abuse simply because it's what they expect.. Treat them nice and they will try to take advantage of you since they see you as weak..

I know this isn't directly tied to the subject at hand, but it seems to be a reasonable off shoot.. But now I think I need to write a blog post about a jeweler that asked a girl if she lived in a cave when she questioned his price.. She's my customer now and probably paying more than he would have charged her.. :disco2:

#32 iamlost

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 12:26 PM

I think "professionalism" and "good sense" are being mixed up a bit here.

If it applies to all of life, it is just good sense. "Professionalism" relates really either to pay or to unique work situations, such as honesty and discloure.

I think talking publicly about stuff on the web fullstop is bad form. It isn't unprofessional, it is just potentially amaging.

Read the 'Standards for Professional Behaviour' or 'Professional Code of Ethics' required by various professional organisations. Basically they all default to 'all of life' best practice with some quirks specific to their group.

And all these rules include something similar to: thou shalt not bring the profession into ill-repute. Like wearing kangaroo ears in public.

Thus while 'professionalism' is always just 'good sense' (and the money), 'good sense' is not always just 'professionalism'. :)

#33 Respree

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 12:32 PM

I suspect projectphp will be along shortly to comment.

Just so everyone is clear, those are donkey ears, which are not be confused with kangaroo ears. :)

#34 iamlost

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 12:49 PM

Thank you for that clarification Respree.

I had been unaware that there are marsupial jacks and jills - but then downunder is full of strange and wondrous sights. :)

#35 projectphp

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 09:53 PM

Whilst there is plenty of cross over, professionalism and the personal have some differences. As an example, it is not neccesarily professional to disclose sexual habits. But in certain personal settings, it (should be) mandatory.

Professionalism also occupies an interesting nook, in that its rules are far more defined. Interpersonal relationships never (or very rarely) have rules that are formalised, even that great talking point, marriage. That makes professional relationships eaasier to navigate, in many ways, and is why some people prefer it to personal relationships.

Professional work, on the other hand, has (or should have) a clear contract.

My point, in a roundaboout way, is that certain behavoiour is foolish no matter the context, i,e. "good sense", and other behaviour is foolish only in a specific context, an it isn't just "unprofessional" to write certain things online, but foolish fullstop.

Professionalism could be a subset of "good sense", but I think there are areas where the two differ, and rather than saying something is "unprofessional", it is often more relvant to simply say it is a bad move no matter the context.

Then there is a third category: what specific people want in a professional. This, in philosophical ethical terms, is called normative, as in trying to make other conform to a norm. These are often things that there is no "right" anwer to, but yet are (incorrectly) used as justification for an argument. Professional, like the emotive words "democracy" and "marriage", are words whose definition is often used in a manner that obfuscates, because our assumptions and definition of the word are unspoken and not a common, shared definition. Polygamy is a good example of "marriage" being stretch in a way many people find "wrong", as is the concept of arranged marriages. Whether these two things are a "marriage" or not shows how a word we all use can be one we don't really share a common definition of.

It is this normative context which is troublesome for "professionalism", as it is often used as a word to control others behaviour. Some examples:

"It is unprofessional to not wear a suit to work" - Some of the brightest minds are, in this information age, underpanters.

"It is unprofessional to do black hat SEO" - many would disagree.

"It is unprofessional to deliver work late, no matter what" - one could argue the opposite, that it is unprofessional to deliver a substandard deliverable no matter what.

"It is unprofessional be blunt to the point of rudeness" - some people prefer the truth, and can't abide by BS. Others prefer to have their hand held, and their ego stroked. One's communication style is neither professional nor unprofessional, it is simply a style.

Professionalism is, IMHO, about an honest dispensing of one's knowledge and capability. "I am an SEO expert" could be an unprofessional statement (a newbie) or totally accurate (Ammon), and that difference defines professionalism, not the normative what you how you act, how you go about your job, when or where.

Of course, whether Kangaroo ears in a forum avatar indicates someone who has personality, class, individuality and a unique charm, or an immature, silly, unprofessional clown, I'll leave others to decide :)



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