Client Resources

How to Market Yourself at Networking Events

By Catherine Lang-Cline

It seems like there are networking events every day of the week. After you have decided which one to attend, you need to figure out how to get the most out of your time, something beyond, “what do you do?” and “can I have your card?”  Everyone is there for the same thing, to shake hands and maybe make some sales. With that in mind, you should not be afraid to start a conversation. You should also be doing more then just collecting cards too. Here are a few things you can do to not only meet people, but market to them, too.

  1. Be happy to meet someone. As you are introducing yourself, do it in a way that is friendly and warm. Seem obvious? Apparently it is not, as many people can treat you like just another handshake with no eye contact or no real interest in their voice. You never know who you are going to meet, so display an attitude of what it would be like if they are your customer. People like working with people they like and people that will take care of them. The first impression you give markets your business as a place that is friendly and can help them.

  2. Everyone is talking business and sales, so throw a curveball and talk about the food at the event, ask if this is their hometown, maybe ask what they like to do when they are not working. The idea is, you want your conversation to stand out. It will really stand out if you discover that you both have something in common. People like to do business with people that they share common interests. Dig for that and they will remember you as someone that they can relate to.

  3. Ask them about their business first, people love to talk about what they do. It is giving them the opportunity to make the first pitch. You then get to talk about you and your business. Since they went first, you can make your pitch to directly address their needs, you can customize your pitch to fit their business. Target your products or services based on what you heard and connect the dots for them! Plus, once they see how you can actually help them, you will stick in their mind the next time they have a struggle.

  4. Ask how you can specifically help. If you can’t help them, is there someone that they know that they can connect you with that does need what your business offers? Warm lead! Is there someone you can introduce them to at this event that they would like to meet or can help them in some way? Connect them! They will not forget your helpfulness and they will love to know that they helped you. You are marketing yourself as a connector and a partner in the community.

  5. Think about how your social media is set up, what information are you pushing out, what articles have you written, or what information are you sharing with the world? All of these things are great marketing talking points and conversation starters to show others how you are the expert in your area. People love hearing from an expert and you can think of this conversation as you hand-delivering your social media marketing. Sometimes people don’t need your business right away, but if you can help them right now in another way that shows off your expert thinking, they will first be grateful, and then remember you as the expert when they do have a need.


None of this can guarantee business of course, but what it does do is allow you to market yourself through conversations that will be remembered. It takes a number of events and meetings with people more to get your message out. There is an unwritten rule in marketing that people need to see a message seven times before recognizing it or acting upon it. Be patient, be present, and market yourself as you go.


What Inspires You?

By Catherine Lang-Cline

What inspires you? It is a tough question sometimes because when asked the question, we tend to state what other people think we should say. Typical answers can be my parents, my spouse, my children, etc. All of these are really good answers because you see them and you want to do better, work harder, and provide more but the word “inspire” is really much more.

Dictionary.com tells us that “inspire = fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” So yes, people can inspire us but let’s think differently as there are a lot more things that can inspire us in more creative ways.

For me, I find delight in any form of the arts. Seeing actors in plays or dancers on stage make by heart and soul swell. When music plays I can feel it in my heart and it sometimes it gives me goosebumps. It generates a genuine physical reaction that is again, delight, it “makes me feel something.”

What inspires me the most are things that I believe that I am capable of doing. For example, I go to an art gallery and see the paintings and because I paint, I am inspired to apply their techniques, work on larger canvases, try mixing mediums, and altering my style. Granted this is WAY more elevated than where I am, but it gets me excited to try something different, to push myself.

In my career, it works the same way. I see how others are achieving their goals, I study their techniques, their style, and try to up my game. People that have worked hard to achieve their dream inspires me. People that build a great marketing message, a solid brand inspire me. People that develop great cultures in their business or do things that really matter inspire me. Building a business was uncharted waters but we surround ourselves with people that could help us, would push us, and inspire us.

Being inspired is seeing something amazing and wanting to reach that high, too. So now, what inspires you?


The Importance of Having a Mentor

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Lots of people start a business or begin their career thinking that they are all alone on their adventure. Or find themselves surrounded by people that are just like them; recent grad, laid-off employee, or a recent start-up trying to forge their way through the next day. It is at times like these that having a mentor is so important but really anytime is a great time to have a mentor if you want to grow in your career.

We can’t possibly know everything that is going to happen on the road ahead, so there is nothing better than to have someone with experience on our side to be our cheerleader and our guide. A mentor can help you plan your path, break things down into steps, introduce you to key people, have serious conversations about your choices, and hold you accountable. In a panic about something? Contact your mentor. Need a pep-talk? Contact your mentor. Not sure how to handle the call that you just got from an inspector? Call your mentor. See the pattern?

You can have one mentor or you can have a few people. With one mentor, meetings should be scheduled monthly or quarterly and have an agenda covering what you would like to discuss and what the status is of everything you have discussed prior. Stick to this schedule because their time is very important. Also, listen to what they are telling you. If they feel like you are wasting their time they might bail. Even if you don’t agree, listen and discuss why you disagree. You have to do what is best for you but also don’t be afraid to try something new. Discuss to think things through.

It can be a lot more casual if you choose to meet with a few mentoring people that can offer you different things. They could be in different places in their career, have a lifestyle similar to yours, be the person you want to emulate, or be an expert in something that you are not. Just plan an occasional meeting, could be breakfast or lunch, and catch them up on what you have been doing and ask them for their experiences in the areas that you are needing help. Again, keeping in touch will keep you accountable.

Where can you find a mentor? Mentors can be found anywhere but ideally, a good mentor is someone that knows you, at least a little. Tell your family and people that you know that you are looking to find a mentor. Hopefully they can recommend someone that they know fairly well and can introduce you. It doesn’t have to be someone in a completely related field, but close is good.

If someone in your close circle doesn’t know anyone, try networking events in the area of your interest. Start a conversation, see if you have a personality “click” and then set up a time for coffee to talk more to see if this person could be a good mentor for you. Stepping even further out of your circle, is there someone in your field that you would like to emulate? Research how they got to where they are today and come up with your own strategy to do the same. There are also organizations that can offer you a mentor or career coach for a fee. Don’t let a fee make or break your decision because quality it typically achieved when there is “skin in the game.”

Still not convinced that you need a mentor? Let me put it this way, I am sure that you are awesome at what you do, but you are not going to be good at everything, and you are not going to know everyone. I have been in business for 14 years and I still meet with mentors and people that I admire all of the time. The higher level conversations are amazing and all outside of your daily circle. It is great to be challenged and it is great to get answers for things that concern us.

Having a mentor is having a real pro on your team. Most importantly, when you are ready, always reach back and mentor someone else coming up through the ranks or in need of help. You can be a game-changer for them.


Goal Setting Isn’t Just For The New Year

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Did you set goals when it was the New Year that you have achieved? How about goals that you have started?

The thing about goals is that they sound fantastic at the time but when attempted, you realized they might have been harder than you expected. This is perfectly okay as we sometimes get swept up in the idea of achieving something in the New Year with all of the cheering and festivities happening. But it doesn’t mean that they aren’t obtainable and it doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to set a goal.

No matter what time of year it is, set goals:

  1. Keep a journal, make a dream board, or just write it on the wall, but create something visual that contains your goals.

  2. Revisit those quarterly. Add or subtract to the list. Think about what you can do this quarter to move the needle closer to your goal. Is there something you can add or is there something that no longer makes sense?

  3. Share your goals with at least one person to help you with accountability.

What is great about this is that it is a “living list”. You can take things off that are no longer making sense for you, you can leave things on the list because you need more time, you can add new things to the list because new and cool ideas pop-up all of the time.

If your goal is something big like a vacation, getting a new job, losing weight, plan those quarterly check-ins to check your own status. Are you saving money, did you rewrite your resume, did you start an exercise or diet plan? The entire goal does not have to be achieved, just progress if you are truly committed. Add another goal, something simpler, or something harder as you move through your year.

You might have a goal in the Spring to clean out your basement. Want to get it done? Maybe just delegate it. Do not be afraid to ask for help on any goal and the people that can help you with those goals can make an appearance in your life at any time.

The “magic” just doesn’t happen once a year to set goals. Set goals and be accountable, all year long. Five...four...three...two...one...Happy Goal Setting!

Small Businesses, This is Your Week!

By Catherine Lang Cline

The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Linda McMahan, announced that National Small Business Week will be held from May 5-11, 2019. So, let’s celebrate what makes small businesses so great!


If you have ever shopped at a small business you probably already know that the customer service is great. The owners take every customer, everything they sell, every dollar, very personally. This business is something that feeds their family, pays their mortgage, and keeps the electric on in their home and business. It also builds a strong community. But according to Forbes, did you also know that:

  • Currently, there are 28 million American small businesses, which account for 54% of all U.S. sales. (That is some serious impact.)

  • A strong network of local funds enables individuals and businesses within a community to support each other and build the community.

  • Small business owners are experts in their industries. They sacrificed time, money, and more to build businesses out of their passions.

  • Small businesses can provide one-on-one service that is often impossible for large corporations.

Now as one of those people who owns a small business I can tell you that we are not only aware of the above numbers, we try and improve those every day. For us, we are trying to make a difference every day; for our community, our families, and for ourselves. Small businesses were the first to offer gluten-free foods in our small bakeries, offer you services for coaching, organizing, and taking the hand-off for things you needed to delegate. We fix phones, wash cars, offer you your own personal expertise in so many areas.

Some people prefer the convenience of a large box store, maybe they prefer the price. It is a choice. But during the week of May 5, try shopping at a few small businesses. Then keep on shopping with small businesses.  What you will find is that you are ultimately investing in your community, investing in a personal experience, investing in someone’s dream.

Everything is good about that.


Employment Law: This Year’s Smokin’ Hot Topics

By Kristen Harris

The laws and legislative issues related to hiring, employment, and human resources management are constantly changing. Attending the American Staffing Association’s Staffing Law Conference helps us stay on top of these issues for ourselves, our clients, and our talent.

We’ve provided this quick overview of the hottest topics that may be of concern to our clients. Please keep in mind that we are not attorneys, and are only providing this as an informational resource. If you have questions or concerns about any of these issues, please consult with your legal counsel.

Top Four Employment Law Issues:

  1. Medical Marijuana. While it remains illegal under federal law, cannabis is currently legal for doctor-prescribed medical use in 30+ states, including Ohio. In addition, several states (not Ohio) have passed laws expressly prohibiting employment discrimination for medical marijuana use. The medically prescribed version does not get you “high” but what if an employee has a positive result on their drug test and explains it with a medical card? The ADA does not directly require medical marijuana accommodation because the drug is still federally illegal; however, it’s assumed that there is an underlying medical condition that may require accommodation. Maybe it’s no different than any other medical condition that requires medication? In addition, when there is a workplace accident it’s often standard practice for the employee(s) involved to tested for drug and alcohol impairment. With marijuana, unlike alcohol, a positive result does not necessarily mean the employee is impaired at that time; residue can remain in the body for several days or more. If you are in a state where cannabis is legal for medical use, consult with your attorney to establish best practices, policies, and procedures.

  2. Recreational Marijuana. Currently, there are nine states where cannabis is legal recreationally (and yes, this is the kind that gets you “high”). In these states, companies are looking at the impact on their employment policies and hiring practices. In many cases, it falls under the same policy as alcohol–employees cannot be under the influence while at work. In more dangerous occupations there can be concern about the impact on work performance, even when employees are only partaking off-the-clock. Some companies continue to have a zero-tolerance policy; others test only for certain jobs where safety is a factor; others have removed marijuana from their drug testing protocol. Recreational marijuana users are not a protected class (less tricky than when it’s prescribed to treat a medical condition), but businesses need to weigh their company needs against the available workforce in this tight hiring market. As always, consult your legal counsel to create policies and practices that fit your business needs.

  3. Immigration. With continuing emphasis on enforcement of immigration policies, it’s important to have properly completed I-9 forms ready for inspection. Even if you are a small company, keep in mind that when a large company is audited then often all of their suppliers and vendors are audited within the year. A best practice is to do your own self-audit annually. Create a process and have a team member who does not typically fill out I9s do the audit; when there is an I-9 inspection most frequently they find one or two mistakes that were made repeatedly. If someone on your team fills out I-9s every day, they believe they’re doing it right. With an audit, you can catch mistakes, follow the USCIS rules on making corrections, and retrain to prevent future mistakes. There is also new attention being paid to how I-9s are being completed electronically. I am not qualified to explain this but we can send you a very thorough ASA Issue paper on the topic, just send us a note. And, of course, consult your attorney.

  4. Background Checks. There continues to be attention focused on the use of arrest or conviction reports in employment decisions. These concerns are related to how the broad use of background checks may have a disparate impact on minorities. Even when a company is following consistent screening practices (e.g. every employee has to pass X, Y, Z background check), the question is being raised whether that level of background check is necessary and appropriate for every job. Is the reason that person has been denied employment related to that job or a business necessity? Factors to consider are the nature of the crime, time elapsed, conviction vs arrest, and the nature of the job they are applying for. Does the applicant’s criminal record prevent them from doing the essential functions of the job? Some states and municipalities require that an employer inform an applicant of the job-related reason they are not qualified. Consult your attorney and guidance documents available from the EEOC.

The best way to protect yourself is to stay informed and proactive. Review policies, ask questions, and resolve concerns before they become an issue.

If you are a Portfolio Creative client and have questions about these topics, or anything else related to our dual responsibilities of hiring and employing talent, please contact us at HR@portfoliocreative.com.


If you are not a client and would like more information on how these topics may apply to your creative staffing or recruiting processes, connect with us at kristen@portfoliocreative.com.


For more information related to hiring, staffing and employment, the American Staffing Association has valuable resources for both employers and employees.

Kondo Your Career: Tidying Up Your Work Life (it could be magic!)

By Kristen Harris

A few years ago Marie Kondo wrote a little book about the “life-changing magic” of tidying up your home, which gained popularity and spiraled into a Netflix series. Now it seems like everyone I know is “tidying up”.

The word “Kondo” has even morphed into a verb. Friends of mine have said ”...last week I Kondoed my kitchen…” or “I spent all week Kondoing…” In fact, just last night I Kondoed my tee shirt drawer (she was right, they’re easier to find when folded into little squares).

Why are people obsessed with decluttering? I believe it’s because we crave a sense of control over our lives. With news, information, entertainment, and work bombarding us from every direction 24/7, we want to feel like we can control some part of our life. Even if it’s just the tee shirt drawer.

So I started thinking, can you Kondo your career? Does this concept of tidying up apply to work as well as home? Yes, and not just by cleaning off your desk.

Marie Kondo’s method emphasizes keeping only items that speak to you or, in her terms, “spark joy”. This is the same for work and career–we only want you to hold onto things that bring happiness. Let’s be honest, it’s called work for a reason; not every moment is going to be sunshine and roses. But I truly believe that everyone can find happiness in their work and, if that’s not the case, then it’s time to find work that can make you happy.

Just as she suggests tackling your home objects by category, we encourage you to look at your work life and career in the same way. Start with self-exploration, then experiences, resume, work samples and, finally, relationships.

Self-exploration is first and critical because if you don’t know what you want and need, it will be impossible to clear through the rest. Collecting and reflecting on experiences helps you gather information to edit and update your resume. Next, gather, edit and organize work samples that support your resume and the type of opportunities you’re interested in. Finally, review, edit and maybe increase your relationships to match your wants and needs.

When helping someone declutter their home, Kondo has them gather everything from one category, literally making a huge pile of all of those items (e.g. clothing or kitchen tools). Use this same concept when tackling one of these career categories. For example, to begin tidying up your work samples, start by making a big pile of everything you have (literally or electronically).

Then consider each piece and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If yes, put it in the “keep” pile; if no, then thank it for the role it played in your life and let it go. You really only want the best of everything in your life, and that includes your best work, best experiences, best relationships, etc. I know, this process all sounds a little woo-woo but, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know what brings us happiness. There is a mindful, introspective component to this clearing method that allows us to keep the best and release the rest.

Once you’ve narrowed down to what you’re keeping, then find the best method for organizing and storing. This could mean creating a dream board, re-designing your resume, building a new portfolio website, re-organizing the folders where you store work samples, or connecting with all of your contacts through LinkedIn. Whatever the method, you need an attractive and easily accessible way to store these items or information.

Taking time to clear through materials, experiences, goals, samples, and relationships that are no longer serving you can bring more happiness (maybe even life-changing magic) to your career!

Why a Podcast?

At Portfolio Creative we have been placing creative people into roles and helping our clients find the perfect person for well over a decade.

Even before this all started, we were creative people, hiring people, interviewing people, or being interviewed ourselves. With all of that life experience, we’ve acquired a lot of knowledge about how the job market works (and how it doesn’t work).

  • We have learned what makes a successful interview from both sides of the table.

  • We have learned how to present ourselves and how we wanted to be presented to.

  • We have learned how to find a job you love or an employee that you would soon love.

  • We have learned a lot–but what good does all that knowledge do if it’s trapped inside our heads?

So we decided to start the Illumination Bureau podcast to share all of that information. To help candidates get hired and for clients to find success in hiring the right person. Everyone is making a first impression at one time or another; this podcast will share information about putting your best foot forward. And, sometimes, it is just not a fit. We’ll also help you move on and find the job or candidate that is.

We’ll talk about finding the right job, moving up the ladder, mentoring employees for leadership, side hustles, contract employees, and so much more. There is a wealth of topics we can cover and, if we don’t know, we’ll bring in an expert.

We hope that you will learn a little something as you listen and share these podcasts with those that you think could use some help. Together, we can build a stronger creative community.

We’ll be talking to you soon,

Catherine & Kristen


We Find A+ Talent

By Kristen Harris

We are all about talent. Whether you write impactful copy, design beautiful graphics, create amazing physical or digital spaces, take stunning photos, or manage a project to the nth degree, you have creative talent. And we believe in the power of your talent to impact business and change our community, maybe even the world. Yes, I went there...your creative talent can change the world.

Catherine and I are creatives at heart, with BFAs and entire first careers as artists, designers, art directors, and creative managers. Now, through Portfolio Creative, we get to help other creatives bring their own talents to the world. When our clients are looking for just the right person and creative people are looking for their next opportunity, they come to us. Why?

We find A+ talent.

It’s our business and mission to connect great creative talent with companies who need their skills and talents. New ideas, innovation, and fresh perspectives are inherently creative and increasingly important to business success. It’s possible to sell practically any product or service anywhere in the world, but think about how much creativity it takes for that to happen. Someone has to think of and create an amazing new thing, and then it has to be shared with others who may need or want it. Every step of that journey requires A+ talent. Companies need great people–to find the right person at the right time–and we do that.

Our team works hard every day to find and connect with top creative talent with a wide variety of skills. We want to work with the best of the best, and that goes way beyond just finding a great person. Because we truly care about the people we work with, celebrating their successes and cheering them on throughout their career, we build genuine long-term relationships.

“We find A+ talent” is one of the things that makes us unique. And having that reputation means we are constantly reaching, setting the bar higher, and expecting more of ourselves. Because like attracts like: A+ Players want to work with other A+ Players. To earn the right to work with the best, we have to be the best.


We Value Creativity

By Catherine Lang-Cline

One of the main reasons we started this business is because we value creativity. It was not necessarily to start a staffing business, but that was the closest model. And, I had gained a bit of knowledge of the basics of a staffing company as a freelancer because I had used companies in the past to help me find work while I also found my own projects. I was registered with a few companies at the time but my best jobs came from the company that specialized in creative. Knowing staffing is important, being connected, but by valuing the creativity, you can offer more.

Tell me if you see yourself here. Growing up I remember valuing my Spirograph®, sketch pads, new crayons with the pencil sharpener in the back. I would spend hours on someone else’s Etch-A-Sketch® because we couldn’t afford to buy one. Easy Bake Oven® led to decorating cakes, graph paper allowed me to draw out layouts for homes, doodles on my school paper contained little outfits I would design and the complete love affair that I had with photography.

My career started by getting a BFA and getting a job with an agency. Commercial art is creative from the problem solving to the finished deliverable. There is also no end to possibilities; headlines, copy, content, images, and format. I appreciate all of it like a symphony that comes together and makes something lovely. Don’t get me started on my love for music.

What else? I travel to see exhibits and art museums. I read great books, watch movies, listen to podcasts, and see speakers just because I love a great story. How about you?

I tell you this because creative people are a special breed. It a talent to visualize and create something out of nothing. Starting a business is also creative and this brings us full circle. Why do we do this? Why does Portfolio Creative exist? Why have we never taken on anything other than the creative space?

We value creativity.

Creative people speak a different language. (Sometimes no language, as for us, it is just sometimes easier to draw a picture.) Our favorite people to work with are the ones that understand us and our vision. The ones that want to turn us loose and see what we can do because they value the talent we possess. The ones that see what we do as having value, not something to be handed out for free. My business partner, Kristen Harris, also believes in the value of creativity and our first conversation in starting this company was, “We want this to be about making the right match, finding the right person for the job, making sure the talent gets paid what they are worth.” (Let’s face it, as artists, we are always asked to do something for free.)

“We value creativity” is one of the very unique things about us. Artists are unique. Creativity is unique. People that value creativity are unique. We exist for all of you.