I got into a fight on social media this week about the definition of the word “professional”.

For me, the phrase is really simple – you’re a professional when someone pays you to do the work. It’s your profession – that’s literally all there is to it.

The LinkedIn fight though wanted to loop in more factors than just that, that something about the WAY you conduct is relevant. This invites a sort of “third way” of thinking about professionalism – but really if someone is not able to comport themselves as a professional in the way that profession dictates, they likely can’t be a professional anymore.

Like if you’re a doctor and you don’t follow the guidelines of the profession – guess what, you’re going to get struck off and then you’re not doing that job anymore.

But most professionals don’t work in professions where there is oversight like that. Things like SEO, or business coaches, or copywriters, or management consultants, your professional status is linked directly to whether you can get people to pay your invoices. Heck, even ACCOUNTANTS don’t have proper oversight.