Between learning the hard way, following mentors and seeing the dumpster fires ablaze on the internet, I’ve learned a couple of things about being a pro staffer. Sometimes pro means “professional”, usually it means “promotional”. I’m not going to argue that here because these points work for either. To the new guys, please read this list. It’ll help you. To the seasoned veterans helping companies every day, please feel free to add on.
1. Congrats! Now Play It Cool
Getting your first pro staff deal is pretty awesome! Lots of folks are going to be happy for you. A few will not. How you announce it can set the stage for how folks will perceive you moving forward. It’s cool to announce it on Facebook but don’t be cocky about it. Say something like, “Excited to be joining Team DrX Baits for 2015. Love these baits!” Humble-brags are not recommended. Neither is world conquering braggadocio.
2. Subtleness is Underrated
Part of your agreement may be to talk about the company you’re helping in forums, Facebook, Instagram etc. Being social online is part of the gig now but how you do it is important. Try telling a story in which your DrX bait helped you put fish in the boat on a tough day. Stories are better than bold internet proclamations. Saying things like, “You need to get these baits today or you’re just stupid!” is a bad move. Don’t insult people and don’t be a jerk.
3. Know Your Role
Make sure when you are approached about a pro staff position that you talk about expectations. And I don’t mean your expectations. I’m talking about the company’s expectations OF you. Many companies will have guidelines they’d like you to follow. They may want you to post a certain number of times or write a blog or work a few trade shows. Make sure you know.
4. Make a Calendar
You’re going to want to plan out your year. If you need to fish tournaments to meet your requirements, mark them down early. Trade shows are going to be the same thing. It also helps to schedule out how often you’ll be blogging, posting or doing seminars. Share these dates with those in your household to set the expectation up front that you will be busy on these days.
5. Be Open Minded and Inviting
DrX Baits has competitors. The competitors will also have pro staff folks singing their own praises. Don’t argue about it. If John Doe says he had a really good day on MrB Baits, congratulate him. Be happy folks are catching fish. Being non-confrontational will go a long way. If people ask about fishing baits, offer to share some of yours. Better yet, offer to go fishing with them. Unfortunately, the day will come when you are challenged or the product you help support is challenged. When that happens, take the high road.
6. Know When To Walk Away
Part of taking the high road is avoiding confrontation. The other part is leaving confrontation if you’re in the middle of it. Some people will never see the logic in a situation. They will also not debate civilly. They will however pick a fight to see what you will do. Troublemakers and trolls would like nothing more than to see you screw up. Know how to spot a troll and be cautious.
7. Learn to Recognize A Bad Relationship
The day may come that it just isn’t working out. Promises may not have been followed through or expectations not met. When it happens, be a mature adult and tell them about it. Don’t fade away and just do nothing. Things may change in the future. Don’t burn a bridge. Reputations will follow you everywhere.
8. Ask What Else You Can Do
Anytime you have a conversation with your partner company, make sure you ask what you can do on top of what you are doing to help them. Most of the time it will result in them saying what you are doing is fine but occasionally a need might exist. Knowing you are asking to know how you can further support their product or business will go a long way to show them you care.
9. Know What Constitutes A Conflict of Interest
If you haven’t already, ask what companies they would prefer you not promote or talk about. It sounds strange but lots of nuances exist. Large companies own other companies that might be competitors. Ask and they’ll let you know. If a conflict does exist, you’ll need to make a decision. Sometimes it’s hard but try to always “dance with the one who brought you”.
10. Understand You Are Acting on Someone Else’s Behalf
Your words, whether in person, on the internet or on the phone are not just your words. Those words also represent any and all of the companies you claim association with. Do you like to curse about politicians, pick fights with family members and post questionable material on your Facebook timeline? DrX apparently does too. Or at least they seem to tolerate it because you are still associated with them. With associations, pro staff agreements and partnerships, you are no longer just a voice of one. You are a voice for many. Use it wisely.