I found out very early in my business career that business, like everything else in life, is all about relationships. When I first started in the photography business in 1973, an older gentleman named Elgin Smith took me under his wing and introduced me to people I needed to know.
Since that day I have seldom done business with anyone other than friends. I believe that friendship, or the potential for friendship, is the first priority. It is all about whom you know and who knows you.
I am a member of the Overland Park and Leawood Chambers of Commerce and other organizations primarily to meet new people and figure out who I want to do business with and count as my friends.
It has been said that your best friends are those that bring out the best in you. Looking for people who can encourage me, who I can learn from, and want the best for themselves and those around them are pretty good criteria for new relationships.
I have learned that being a person that people want to hang out with is far more important than specific skills. In music, the musicians that get the best jobs are not necessarily the ones with the best chops, but rather, the ones that other people want to be with. The same is true to varying degrees in other professions as well.
I send out a weekly newsletter via email. I think it is good marketing, but more importantly, the responses tell me who I might want to do business with. If somebody isn’t interested in what I am doing, I probably won’t be interested in doing business with them either. That seems pretty straight forward to me.
If you want friends, be a friend. If you want people to be interested in you, be interested in them.