This was a common question for me, in the four years I spent living in DC. This is partially because that's the nature of the town. It's as dog-eat-dog as you've heard, and it's a place where twenty-somethings go to advance their careers as quickly as possible. The subtext there was, “how valuable of a person are you?”
It was funny to experiment with reactions. Since I had five jobs in four years, I got to do a lot of experimenting. A receptionist in a consulting firm got a lukewarm response, but when I was an account manager at a political staffing firm, I got more business cards than I ever wanted.
By the time I had grown weary of life in our nation's capital, I started responding to the question by answering, “My name is Kathleen, what's yours?” since the question was often asked before the person knew my name.
It made me wonder, though…
How Do We Identify Ourselves?
I have a fancy camera. When I learn how to use it, will I be a photographer?
At what point do we start taking ourselves more seriously? It's certainly not in acquiring the tools that the professionals have. We all have access to keyboards (unless you're on your iPad) and monitors. But we are not all writers.
I learned at a bloggging conference over the weekend that there isn't much difference between the professionals and the hobbyists. Sometimes, the difference was timing — the guys who'd been doing it the longest had the most experience (and the glint in their eye that showed that they'd made it).
But the professional bloggers were different in another way. They took their role, their blog, and their profession seriously. They weren't ashamed to say they were writers who started blogs. Their personalities were very different. If you've ever read Ramit, you'd expect (like I did) for all the “heavy hitters” to have 200X the confidence of the average person. And you'd be right, about Ramit. He is a confident fellow. But the others? J.D.? Flexo? Will Chen? They were normal — they were guys who'd made it work. They were good at their jobs, and they had made their careers very profitable.
I'm still working on my own answer, but I'd like to know, what do you do?