Every industry has its own criteria for determining distinction. These criteria may include education, type and level of difficulty of work performed, and years in profession. Popularity does not necessarily gain you peer recognition and insider standards are vastly different than popular opinion. Industries create their own rules for admission and long held traditions and beliefs are slow to change. Traditions are received as snide arrogance by the “outside” group and factions occur among those who are in reality on the same side working for the same goal.
In my own career I have witnessed:
- Orthopedists versus Chiropractors
- MDs versus Alternative Practitioners
- Sales versus Marketing
- Bloggers versus Journalists
- Graphic designers versus Web Designers
- Writers versus “Real Writers” (these fractions may be self published vs published, print vs web, academia vs fiction)
- Marketers versus online marketers
And this is only a partial list! Some lines are drawn based on false assumptions about the level of expertise and quality, and others appear arbitrary markers decided erected as a ritualistic rite of passage. Still others will blur over time as factions come to respect and adopt best practices from the other side, and/or innovation changes the game for everyone.
There are also lines that are drawn because of a passionate commitment to preserving high standards in your industry. There is no doubt that there is a difference between the trained and untrained. It is these differences that can lead to misinformation that casts a negative light on the entire profession. In this digital age, platforms are easy to gain and self-defined labels do little to illuminate true expertise.
The ease of entry definitely has its advantages such as an even playing field and the opportunity to break through barriers and create your own success. I personally applaud those advantages because they allowed me to create a business. But there are disadvantages of it being too easy. Training and experience can immunize you against the risks of certain tactics. Without knowledge of the professional code you risk conduct that diminishes the integrity of the profession and the experience of the end user.
Off-topic pitches, form letters with missing or wrong names, sales pitches as an intro and automated direct messages are all tactics that diminish the professional brand of those in marketing and PR.
Enthusiasm and change are good for any profession. By all means challenge traditions, and innovate the way things are done but do not sacrifice excellence in your pursuit to get the end result. Doing so can not only hinder what you are trying to achieve but bring on the wrath of those who could actually help you.
What are your experiences? Do you have your own criteria for determining “true professionals?”
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