Why Clients (and Everyone) Deserves More Than a Text

By Catherine Lang-Cline

You know how when you read, hear, or see something that it can sometimes feel like that you have been hit like a thunderbolt? That occurred to me recently when I read that Nicole Kidman told Parade magazine that she has never sent her husband a text. "We talk all the time and we FaceTime but we just don't text because I feel like texting can be misrepresentative at times."

We all know that to be true but I am willing to take that thought one step further by saying that too much texting or email will simply erode any relationship. Speaking in terms of personal relationships first, my husband and I are very busy, there is a lot of travel, too. Therefore for speed, we text a lot. Typical, right? Just a long string of notes like:
“What’s for dinner?”
“I found my keys.”
“I love you xoxo”

Informative and sometimes sweet but after a while, it is just words, just information without feeling. The feeling comes in the face-to-face. The expression your husband makes when he sees you enter the room, the actual laugh vs the “LOL”, and sometimes it is no words and it is just holding hands. Awesome. The idea of that kind of communication makes me want to not use texting as a form of communication with my husband anymore.

Now let’s move this all to a professional arena. Clients are busy, we are busy and a client relationship can turn into a long string of quick notes, updates, and questions. Sometimes the client won’t get back to you in over a week. Ask yourself if your client relationship has dwindled to a bunch of unfeeling data. Your clients need to know you and we need to know them. We need to shake hands, let them see our faces when we are so excited to be working with them, and get to know them as people with feelings and challenges. What if you chose to cut your electronic communication with clients in half? What if you called, left voice messages, went out for lunch or coffee? Clients may still email return responses and not accept your lunch invitation but the seed about elevating this relationship has been planted. Sometimes you have to wait for it.

It might take a sliver more time to do this, you may not want to talk because you prefer the safety of a nicely constructed email, but if the result is a better relationship with your client..so worth it! Ultimately, we will all like each other. And who doesn't like working with people that we like? Let’s try it again this time with feeling.

Want to be treated like a person? You might want to contact us at portfoliocreative.com. Open, honest, helpful people work here.
 

Sharpen Up Your Search

By Kristen Harris 

Shark Week has become such a big deal, it’s practically a national holiday! (Nice work, Discovery Channel.)

We’re always picking up new ideas about careers and job search. So, in the spirit of the almost-holiday, here are a few lessons learned from the sharks. Happy hunting!

  1. Never Stop Moving. Sharks have to keep swimming to avoid sinking to the bottom. They are basically always moving, even if it’s ever-so-slightly. Whether you’re building a career, starting a business, or searching for your next opportunity, never stop moving. Do something, even if it’s small, every day. Read an article, learn a skill, send out a resume, contact a potential client–small actions add up over time to keep you moving forward (and prevent sinking to the bottom).

  2. Adjust to the Situation. If there is no food, sharks move on to a location with more options. This is the same with searching for a job, new business, or career growth. If the opportunities aren’t available where you are, adjust and focus on where the opportunities are. This could mean changing tactics, finding new connections, redesigning your marketing pieces, changing your area of focus, or literally relocating.

  3. Choose Your Surroundings. As predators, the feeding behavior of sharks changes according to the presence of prey and competition. They (literally and figuratively) feed off of the energy of the group. Remember that the energy of the people you surround yourself with has a strong impact on your mood and motivation. Spend time in positive situations with people who are encouraging, helpful, and supportive.

  4. Remember and Learn From the Past. Sharks have very good memories. They migrate to follow food sources and remember the (often complex) migratory patterns of their prey. Reflect on where you were successful and not-so-successful in the past. How can you repeat some of the patterns that worked, perhaps in a new and updated way? And remember what didn’t work, avoid it, and try something new?

  5. Socialize with Your Kind. We think of sharks as solitary, but some species are very social, hanging out and hunting in “schools”. As fierce predators, they do not need special protection so this grouping is thought to be purely social. We gain a lot by spending time with others as well. Seek out individuals and groups related to your industry, interests, or a new topic you want to learn. The connections you build can extend way beyond the one meeting or event, leading to long-term relationships and valuable career connections.

The waters can be rough out there! If you have questions about your career or job search, we’re here to help. And we don’t bite, promise.

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Laura Roccaforte

In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Laura Roccaforte, a baker and cookie decorator extraordinaire of some of the coolest and most adorable cookies we've ever seen! 

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My name is Laura and I am the face behind Bakes by Lo, a cottage home bakery that specializes in custom decorated sugar cookies. I grew up in Cleveland in a small suburban city where my high school days consisted of multiple art classes and my home life included watching and helping Mom bake whenever we could. My love for both of these carried into college, where I took more art classes for fun and “procrastibaked”, AKA baked when I should have been studying. After graduating, I thought: Why not combine both of the things I love so much? Eventually, Bakes by Lo was born and I spent every minute outside of my day job baking up cookies for friends, family, and soon enough, actual customers.
Today, my husband and I reside in Hilliard, just blocks from our local Whit’s to satisfy our daily ice cream cravings. :) 

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Morning

My best days start with a workout. My favorite: an early-morning run with the sunrise. It’s the best kind of meditation; it’s quiet, I can release my thoughts, breathe deep, and wake up with the world. It’s the best way to clear my head before the day really begins and it becomes filled with cookie ideas and to-dos.

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Afternoon

I try to keep my workday as routinely as possible. Early in the week, my day consists of standing in front of my trusty blue Kitchenaid, Tiffany, while she mixes batches and batches of dough to be made. Later in the week, my day consists of decorating the baked cookies. I like to think of my cookie as my blank canvas, and my icing as my medium. The cookie that takes 30 seconds to eat may have taken 3 minutes to decorate. A lot of love goes into each one! 

Evening


Did I mention I love ice cream? Any chance we get, AKA almost every night, my husband and I are biking, walking, driving to support our local ice cream parlors. Whit’s, Handel’s, Graeter’s, you name it, we’ve enjoyed it. In the midst of this great city, Columbus also has great metro parks that I love exploring. It’s the perfect way to escape from the bustle of the day (and work off that ice cream). I’ve lived here for 7 years now and there is so much to see and I never get sick of seeing it!
 

Follow Bakes by Lo!

To see more of her amazing cookies, including some she made for us! 

Instagram || website

Networking Like a Shark

By Catherine Lang-Cline

People think that you need to be very aggressive to properly network. What networking really is, is building relationships, but there are some characteristics we could adopt from one of the most aggressive creatures on the planet to produce some very effective networking, I am talking about the great white shark. In honor of “Shark Week,” here is what we can learn from these bold creatures:

Sharks work alone. 
This is almost always true, but sometimes they work in teams. Networking works the same way, you throw yourself into a room full of people, alone or with a partner and start “swimming” around the room, looking for prey or comparing yourself to other sharks. With this in mind, walk in and take a quick pass around the room. Greet those you know and ask them if they know other people in the room, have them introduce you. Work in teams to change a conversation from a cold introduction to a warm one.

Sharks are intelligent, curious, and learn quickly.
Always have intelligent conversation when meeting people, first impressions are key. Then put yourself on hold for a bit and ask your new friend some questions. Ask about where they work, how they like it, what is their biggest struggle? Listen and learn quickly how you or your company could be of help. People love helpers and they will be more receptive to continue a conversation with you if they know it will be of some benefit to them.

Sharks have 500-pound livers.
Yes, the great white shark typically has a liver that weighs around 500 pounds, allowing it to go months without eating. Worth mentioning that networking events have alcohol and rather than always accepting the alcohol, you can preserve your liver and have water. Sharks like water. Also, keep in mind that you might also go extended periods of time without getting a “bite.” I would recommend really being strategic when it comes to the events you go to. Think about where your potential clients might be AND the events that have the people that know the people you want to meet. Chambers and rotaries have events that cover a wide range of businesses for a more broad reach, but you may find events that host people in the field you wish to target, just keep going and don’t get discouraged.

Sharks are relentless.
Definitely not saying to grab onto a potential client and shake them until they will work with you, that is a bad thing. Being relentless, when you know you can help someone, is not a bad thing. In most cases, the person you are connecting with does not have an immediate need. What you can do while you are patiently waiting, is to see if they know anyone else that could need their help. Think if there is another way to help them, a person you can connect them with, a book or restaurant you could recommend, be more than “the taker.” Be the “giver.” Join a board or committee in your area of expertise. Not only will it make you feel good, but people will remember you. Also, keep at it. Timing is everything and you want to be there when they need you.

Sharks like tropical and subtropical temperatures.
Who doesn’t? Vacation is the payoff for all of this hard work.

Networking like a shark may help you feel a little more powerful in the room. It may help you not give up on that client you know that you can help. It may make you feel pretty cool, too.
Keep refilling that business card holder, shake a lot of hands, and happy hunting!

#sharkweek

Meet Our Team Series: Co-Creator, Kristen Harris

In the latest installment of our Meet Our Team series, we talk with Kristen Harris, one of our Co-Creators. Kristen, a CCAD alum, enjoys listening to podcasts, knitting, and of course spending time with her two dogs. 

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Hey there! I’m one of the founders of Portfolio Creative. Back in 2005 Catherine and I had this great idea to connect creative talent and companies who needed them and decided we were the people to do it. I’ve had a couple of different careers (so far) but always seem drawn to work that involves creativity and solving problems.

Where am I from? Here. I grew up just outside of Columbus; my family is originally from Van Wert in northwest Ohio. I came to CCAD for college and, despite big plans to move “somewhere exciting”, never left. I’ve watched Columbus become that “exciting” place to live. It has been really fun to see our city change over the years–I remember when people called it a “cowtown” but now we’re on every “cool city” list imaginable.

Morning:

My mornings usually start with a dog snuggled in bed, unless he’s whining for food because my husband is not already up. We have two dogs; Rusty’s a lab mix and Holly is a greyhound. I’m sure that you can see Rusty is not underfed, but he must have food before anything else can happen. After that, I get going with a little breakfast. I’ve been into matcha lattes lately or, when I’m feeling really ambitious, a scrambled egg and some fruit. If I’m meeting someone for breakfast that’s another story–bring on the yummy omelet or a Bizmark donut from DK Diner.

Afternoon: 

At work, every day is different which is part of what I love about my job. On any given day I might be meeting with internal team members, helping a client or one of our talent, connecting with someone in the community, or working on a new idea to make Portfolio Creative even better. I’m all about constant improvement and believe there’s always something we can make better! In general, I focus on the internal operations of our business; I love a good spreadsheet and get oddly excited about processes.

I’m mostly a tea drinker but do like to have a cup of coffee in the afternoon. I’ve been adding coconut milk instead of cream lately–it’s so delicious! When I need a brain break I put in earbuds and take a quick walk around Grandview Yard while listening to a podcast. Favorites include How I Built This, Revisionist History, Beautiful Anonymous, Balanced Bites, Boss Files, So Here’s My Story...okay, I listen to a LOT of podcasts.

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Evening: 

Unless I have the occasional work event, at the end of the day I head home to Clintonville and catch up with my hubby and aforementioned dogs. The dogs take us for a couple of walks every evening; they treat getting us outside like it’s their job. Beyond that, downtime is spent reading, crafty things like knitting, other creative projects, or conjuring up new ways to help our clients and talent. I seem to get the best ideas when I’m thinking about something else!
 

The Black Hole: You Aren't Alone

By Derik Abbott

One of the most common pain points we hear from candidates that come into our office is their inability to get responses to their resume submittals for openings online. While this might seem like something that is only affecting you, rest assured, it’s an epidemic that plagues all job searches out there. 

We, as recruiters, actually see this happen with a lot of hiring managers we work directly with (most we’ve met in person and have some level of relationship with). It’s something that everyone from job seekers to recruiters has been trying to solve for years now and with the current employment climate, it doesn’t see to be something that will quickly rectify its self. The good news is that there are some ways to try to get more visibility with clients. 

I am a firm believer that regardless of the outcome, people should remain steadfast in applying to roles that are in their area of expertise and interest. Once one or two interviews are requested it’s only a matter of momentum before something sticks. In order to try and help with that momentum, I think trying various tactics to get your name/face in front of people will really help make you stand out. 

Simple things like adding the Recruiter or HR Manager that is listed on the LinkedIn job postings is a good way to get your name in the back of their mind without causing too much interruption in their day. Sending them a note on LinkedIn often times could go 50/50 so I think going that far is something you have to individually weight your options on but adding someone is a pretty standard practice and could only increase your chances of at least getting them to think about you. 

Networking is also the number one way people still get jobs. Whether asking someone you know to pass along your resume to the right person within a company of interest or going to various local group’s networking events. There are a ton of people that you could get in front of or make contacts with that doesn’t require you to go out of your way. Remember, people, go to networking events for the Programming aspects but wouldn’t be there if they weren’t open to networking so it’s an open floor to get in front of people who may be able to introduce you to others. 

I think the best piece of advice we can give is to remain positive and diligent. Everyone else is having the same struggles as you, you aren’t alone. While searching and networking, it could be good practice to continue to work on at-home pieces for your portfolio or hone your skills because any extra things you can add to your resume/portfolio could be what helps tip the scales in your favor on that next submittal! 

Meet Our Team Series: Co-Creator, Catherine Lang-Cline

In the latest installment of our Meet Our Team series, we talk with one of our Co-Creators, Catherine Lang-Cline. Catherine is one of our fearless leaders who enjoys karaoke sessions in the car with her daughter, traveling, and being involved in the Columbus community.

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Hi, I’m Catherine Lang-Cline and I am President and Co-Creator of Portfolio Creative. My journey into this business starts with a fine arts degree from Northern Illinois University. Illinois was where I grew up and started my career as a graphic artist. The fates delivered me to Columbus, Ohio, where my first job here was as a freelancer with Bath & Body Works. This is where I eventually met Kristen Harris, my business partner. After a number of years of working with LBrands, and in my case, freelancing around town, we conjured up the idea to help the creative community find creative people easier and from people that understood the business. Currently, I live in Upper Arlington with my husband and daughter, mostly because I found a post-modern ranch that desperately needed me to save it.

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Morning:  

I’d love to say that my mornings start out very leisurely, but it is typically a march of packing lunches, getting dressed, and getting hair done. My daughter and I have a lot of hair. Amp that up even more if I need to get to a board meeting or client meeting first thing in the morning. In the background at my house, you can either hear NPR or The Amazing World of Gumball, because my daughter is obsessed with Gumball. Car rides to camp or school can sometimes be impromptu karaoke sessions. Everything typically runs fairly smooth because I have it timed pretty well but if one thing upsets the schedule, we have a scramble on our hands. Weekends are much more leisurely, as I get to sleep in and then exercise my past-life experience of working at a pancake house to whip up something special.


Afternoon:

My work day is all day because it is life, not life balance, you piece together all of it in any way that works. Some of that discipline comes from owning a business. Some of that comes from me loving what I do. Sometimes you leave work at 4 PM knowing that you will be back on the computer after homework is done and everyone is tucked in. I love keeping it flexible and attacking things when you are up for the task, it’s just more effective. I also love jamming as much as I can in my day then getting home exhausted. It feels like I have accomplished something.

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Evening:  

My hobbies are working on boards. I know that sounds weird but that is where I spend a lot of my spare time and I love it. I love that Columbus has accepted this business so openly and with that, I want to give back in return. I serve on the board for the Greater Columbus Arts Council so evenings involve attending events that support artists in the community. I also serve as the Past-President of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Columbus Chapter, because mentoring and supporting peers is very important to me. Then I also serve on the board for the Columbus Chamber of Commerce because if you want to get things done, you have to know the right people. With that said, every single one of these groups are amazing to work with. They all feed my soul and hopefully, I can help the community in return.

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Other hobbies include a range of things including raising an awesome daughter, painting, travel, and reading. I used to have a full-on motorcycle that I rode all over the country but stopped riding when texting and driving became popular, so traded that in for a Vespa, which is still fun, but at much slower speeds. I treasure experiences over things, so the more I do for the community, my family, and myself, the happier I am.

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Annie Doherty

In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Annie Doherty, who works in Marketing Production at Abercrombie & Fitch , going jeeping, and finding good Happy Hours in Columbus. 

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Hey! I'm Annie Doherty - a print nerd and paper enthusiast by day, and modern calligrapher by night. I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio- graduated from OSU with an English degree, with a focus on creative writing. Somehow, I jumped into the print industry right out of college and have loved it since. I started in a print shop in Westerville, Ohio learning the ins and outs of printing. Since then, I have worked in Marketing Production at LBrands, Nationwide, and now currently Abercrombie & Fitch. When I'm not at work, I am either in my studio, out getting muddy in my jeep, or binge-watching Netflix. My husband and I eloped in October 2018 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, NC. We love to go on adventures and thought, why not get married on a mountaintop and surprise everyone?! We live in Grandview and can often be found at Knotty Pine since it's a short walk away. 

Morning


I am NOT a morning person until I've had my coffee. People laugh if I show them the number of alarms on my phone because it takes so much effort for me to get my day started! I'm usually running late but refuse to leave without making a giant cup of coffee. Breakfast is usually a quick yogurt or a handful of lucky charms. On the weekends, my husband will graciously bring me coffee in bed before he starts his day. (I know I am very lucky that he does this- but he also knows I may never get out of bed without it!) You can also usually find us brunchin' at Knotty Pine on the weekends (if we're not out camping or jeeping!). They have a killer $5 Bloody Mary bar and $2 mimosas! Can't beat that!

Afternoon

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My afternoons are typical since I work in an office, but my team makes an effort to always take a lunch break. It's easy to get swept up in the craziness of retail marketing - but so important to make sure you're eating and letting yourself recharge for rest of the day. That said, my lunches are usually whatever I can throw together when I'm running late for work in the morning. I'm (unfortunately) gluten-free, so I can't always depend on buying food in the cafeteria at work. Plus, I'm super cheap! My most common lunches are gluten-free corn dogs or gluten-free waffles with peanut butter. I know, you're jealous. 

Evening


Afterwork, I try to get in a quick workout before dinner. I try hard to cook, but I also LOVE finding good happy hours in Columbus. I'm that person you text when you're looking for the best deal of the day. After food, I get to work in my studio. I was able to turn our third bedroom into an art studio where I do my hand lettering, artwork, and writing. I'm currently in the middle of my second 100 Day project which means I'm definitely spending time in the studio every night. Working in my studio is my biggest tool for fighting my depression and anxiety!

However, If I really have no desire to cook and can quickly get my side hustle work done, my typical evening deals week would look like this:
Monday - Woodlands Tavern for Monday Funday
Tuesday - tacos at Local Cantina
Wednesday - pizza happy hour at an undisclosed location (can't give away all my best secrets!!)
Thursday - $5 tank nachos at Ethyl & Tank
And still looking for a good Friday night deal! 

Follow Annie! 

Hand Lettering Instagram 

Working with Mental Illness

By Annie Doherty

Working with mental illness is not always easy. Some days it’s all I can do to get out of bed, let alone look presentable and make it into the office where I have to interact with other people. Other times, my anxiety is so high I’m just waiting for some little thing to tip me over the edge into full-fledged panic. What I’ve learned, however, is that I need the structure of a job, going to a workplace, and the forced interaction with people. I recently got a new job and took two weeks off to work on some personal projects and relax before stepping into a new work environment. During those two weeks, the lack of structure was awful. It was incredibly difficult to get motivated to do anything and I began to be afraid to leave the house. 


    Having a job helps keep me strong in my fight against my brain. In one sense, it’s like I’m exercising those mental muscles that I need to help keep me functioning on a normal scale. If I don’t use them, they get weak and don’t always work the way I need them to. I need my brain to be actively diligent, aware of triggers and mood changes so that I can be prepared to react the best way possible. 


    I do have safeguards for when and if I feel the winds shifting in my brain. I have an arsenal of essential oils at my desk and in my purse for when my anxiety starts to spike. Whether or not the oils are really doing anything (because I know people love to argue both sides), the simple act of stopping what I’m doing and pausing to smell and apply them helps shift my brain’s focus. 


I’ve also been lucky to create friendships everywhere I’ve worked with people I’ve felt comfortable enough to share my story. Because of this, I’ve been able to have a support system at work. Simply telling a coworker that I’m high anxiety or struggling with a strong wave of depression can help keep things at bay. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more honest with my bosses.  I’ve been fortunate to work on teams and have bosses that are understanding. I’m also a firm believer in mental health days - because just like when you have a cold, sometimes you need to stay home when you don’t have any strength to get out of bed. 

Misclassification of Independent Contractors is Risky Business

By Kristen Harris

More opportunities for independent and remote work also means more opportunities to run afoul of employment law. There are a growing number of people who are interested and open to flexible work options and, understandably, companies want to take advantage of their skills and talents.

Upfront disclaimer: I am not an attorney or legal professional. This is general information only; be sure to consult with your own legal, tax and employment experts. Okay, back to the topic…

Businesses are utilizing a wide range of arrangments, to get work done, including full time and part-time employees, freelancers, temporary staffing employees, contracting firms, remote workers, and more. With all of these different arrangements, it can be challenging to know how to engage each person in a legally compliant way.

Today there are still only two ways to classify any worker from a tax and employment law perspective: as an Independent Contractor (1099) or and Employee (W2). Misclassification can be a serious issue, whether purposeful or accidental, so it’s important to make the right choice.

The IRS, federal and state government agencies are well aware of the temptation to ‘misclassify’ a worker by treating them as an Independent Contractor instead of an Employee. It may seem simpler, easier and advantageous from a tax perspective, but federal and state entities are continuing to crack down on businesses that misclassify workers and the consequences can be serious.

So, how do you get it right? There are two key things to keep in mind.

First of all, regardless of what the worker may prefer, the onus and the risk to properly classify workers are on the business. With the potential new tax advantages, some individuals may request to be handled as an Independent Contractor, but it’s up to you to decide if they truly qualify.

Second, the default is for every worker to be an Employee. So, if you want to handle someone as an Independent Contractor, there must be significant evidence that the relationship qualifies.

However, there is no clear set of rules to determine whether someone is an Independent Contractor or Employee. There are common law rules provided by the IRS but ultimately you have to make a judgment call.

You’re looking for what degree of control and independence the worker has in their relationship with you in three categories: Behavioral, Financial, and Type of Relationship. How much do you control what, how and where they do their job? How are they paid and reimbursed for expenses? Are there contracts, benefits, and is the relationship ongoing?

If you really want the IRS’s help in making this determination, you can fill out Form SS-8. Or perhaps you could just work through the questions on the form and the answer will become clear.

Wondering what the risks are to misclassifying a worker? You may be held liable for employment tasks for the worker, plus fines and penalties related to failure to withhold and remit taxes, pay insurance or pay overtime. Workers who feel they have been misclassified may also file a Form SS-8 requesting a review of their work situation.

If you realize that some of your Independent Contractors need to be reclassified as Employees, the IRS does offer an optional Voluntary Classification Settlement Program to help you get on the right track. Or, many companies avoid the risk by working with a qualified firm to assess and take care of non-employees. It’s what we do every day–we’re happy to help!