I could write a book on how to not do a portfolio review. I have made all the mistakes and despite that I have somehow crafted a long and satisfying career. Here are 10 important tips I’ve learned along the way:
1) Know who you are going to see before you step out the door. Nothing leaves a bad impression more than showing a book of pictures to a reviewer that is not relevant to what they do.
2) Know the sales story you are trying to tell and practice that story with your book.
3) Practice your sales story with people who love you and if you can handle it, with people who don’t like you. Talk about honesty! Scratch that, only practice with people who don’t like you, that way the reviewer will seem like a loved one in the end.
4) Do not talk too much.
5) Always have something to pull out of your back pocket when they ask you for more.
6) Show work with a personal vision, not the work that you think they expect to see.
7) You only have one chance to make a first impression so make it a great one. Mediocre they have seen before, and they will forget you once you leave the room.
8) Have support materials ready to leave behind.
9) Follow up with a handwritten thank you note.
10) Portfolio Drop-offs are acceptable, too; reviewers do look at them. Two of my best assignments early on in my career were from drop-offs. Not long ago, I got an assignment from a portfolio drop off – from ten years ago – they finally had the right assignment for me, and she remembered.