I think I have mentioned before that I am involved in a local production of Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing'. Obviously this is a community theater production as opposed to a professional one. I have been part of several community theater productions, and have thoroughly enjoyed myself doing so, but I've seen and learned something that can apply to and benefit artists of all kinds.
No matter the setting, behaving professionally will make you stand out from the crowd, and will make you someone who people want to support and work with again and again. In the show I'm in right now, as is the case in basically any community theater production, many times some of the cast and crew don't take the production as seriously as perhaps the director would like them to, and things happen such as missing rehearsals, complaining, dropping out, etc. I'm not trying to criticize anyone, and many times it is simply the case that people don't know what they're getting into, or something like that. My point here is that those who act professionally in this "non-professional" setting (i.e. show up on time, don't complain, do what they're asked, work hard, etc.) have a better experience, create a better experience for others, and open doors to further opportunities. I have gotten to know the cast and have had a blast so far in this show, and because I come early and do my best to behave professionally, I feel that my relationship with my director is such that I can trust to learn from her, and she can trust me with additional responsibilities and opportunities. It has been a great experience thus far.
The same goes for writing. Even if all you're doing is reading a poem for a few students on the staff of your local universities creative writing journal, be professional about it. Dress appropriately, behave kindly, be punctual and considerate, etc. When in communication with editors or agents, show gratitude and an extreme willingness to work. Respond as quickly as possible, and be understanding when things don't work out exactly as you'd hoped. All this will make you someone who those in your industry want to help succeed.
Have you had an experience where professionalism has been a factor? Any other thoughts on this?