One of the most common questions I get from other photographers or people interested in my line of work is,
“So how’d you get this gig?”
And while the short answer of it may be simple “A past client referred me when their friend asked for a recommendation on a photographer”…the dynamic behind it all is much more complex.
I never just attribute each new client to the random “chance” that every person automatically points them in my direction due to the quality of my work. I attribute it to the fact that I’m always in the front of their minds and that it’s easier to have me pop in their head vs someone else they’ve worked with just a few months ago.
I think a lot of people approach business as a sprint rather than a marathon, and I wanted to take some time to explain why it’s the worst idea in the world.
Say you get someone’s business and you deliver them an awesome product. Great right? Yes. But where the real value is that this *first* interaction opens up the door towards developing one new relationship to include in your social circle. The communication drops – you just stopped watering the plant that could have bloomed into some hella-beautiful flowers.
Regardless of whether or not you’d ever work with that client again, you’ve made a great initial impression. And that’s all you need. Because you’ve shown them your capable, and you’ve shown them you’re a great fit. They’re now in the position to recommend you to anyone with full confidence.
HELP THEM however you can. Think of them often. When you see something that makes you think of them, send it to them. Could be a text, email, or on their facebook page.
I can’t stand when social interaction between two people steeps so low as to only get in touch when one person needs something from the other. HUGE.FUCKING.TURN-OFF. (One of the worst feelings is getting that text “how are you?” and then shortly after – receiving a big long bulk text asking for you to refer business their way. Trying to “fake” being genuinely interested works against you in the WORST possible way. I’ll never EVER refer someone to that person based off that kind of sneaky tactic alone. It has to truly come from the heart. You want something? Be up-front about it. Don’t just send me a mass-produced text and move on to the next. That’ll be your express ticket to getting deleted out of my contacts. I’m sure you’ve felt the experience of feeling like a “number” to someone. It’s not pleasant – and you’re no “one-night stand”. You deserve at least a dinner damn’t.)
Transactional-style business is unpleasant, and takes the humanity out of working together. Add in some flavor. LISTEN to people when they talk about what their interests are. And then surprise-the-fuck-out-of-them with some originality and send something that’s specific to their life or what affects them on the reg’.
I want to make a point to make it known that I don’t do this kind of stuff in a strategic/manipulative way to gain new clients – it’s just how I live my life. I do this kind of stuff for clients and I do this for people that have an extremely low impact on my life and probably wont have ANYTHING to do with my work at any point in time – sometimes they live thousands of miles away!
But I can’t stress to you how much it TRULY makes a difference to be original in your communications and really can’t express how much value it brings in terms of attracting the right kind of people into your life.
So since I know some people like to skip straight to the bottom and some people need a little summary of it all, here are a few key take-aways for you to help grow your network. (Think of it like a garden – water those plants, feed em nutrients, HELL – talk to those ferns!! Ask ‘em how their day went!)
-LISTEN TO PEOPLE, AND MAKE A POINT TO REMEMBER THINGS PERSONAL TO THEM.
-CALL SOMEONE ON THE PHONE. DON’T JUST TEXT. ASK THEM ABOUT HOW THEY’VE BEEN AND TAKE GENUINE INTEREST IN THEIR LIFE.
-HELP PEOPLE CONNECT WITH OTHERS THAT DEVELOP SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIPS
-DON’T JUST DO THE BARE MINIMUM. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORDINARY AND EXTRAORDINARY IS THAT LITTLE BIT OF “EXTRA”
-BE ORIGINAL. BE YOU. DON’T TRY TO PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE ELSE. THERE ARE NO COVER BANDS IN THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME
-ASK HOW YOU CAN HELP OR IMPROVE SOMEONE’S CIRCUMSTANCES.
-STOP BEING LAZY AND OFFER A HAND WHEN YOU CAN HELP. WATCH SOMEONE’S MANCOON CAT FOR A WEEK IF THEY NEED A CATSITTER (I DID THIS A FEW WEEKS AGO) PICK SOMEONE UP AT THE AIRPORT. (IF YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE THEIR DAY, EMAIL ME AT TIM@TIMKINGBLOG.COM AND I’LL TELL YOU A WAY YOU CAN BLOW THEIR MIND)
-SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS. IT’S FUNNY, I’VE FOUND THOSE CLOSEST TO ME HARDLY EVER “LIKE” MY POSTS – GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO MAKE IT KNOWN YOU SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS. IT REALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
-HELP STRANGERS. FOR NO REASON AT ALL, BUT THE FACT THAT YOU *CAN*
I hope you got some value out of this post. If you agree with what I’ve said and want others to follow the same mentality – help me encourage others and “share” this blog post on facebook or twitter.
BONUS – if you ever want to talk marketing or photography – I often tweet out at moments when I’ve got some extra time to kill & offer to chat on the phone about anything you want. Find me at @timkingphoto
Have a great one guys!
PS – thanks to my friend Josh for this shot!
PPS – if you want to watch something that had a HUGE impact on how I think about how I approach social media/relationships, watch this clip. It’s an hour long, but really worth watching. Grab yourself some popcorn and a notepad – and afterwards let me know what you got out of it!