All relationships include contacts but not all contacts include relationships. A lot of networkers like to fill their smart phones with as many phone numbers and emails as possible; now this isn’t a negative thing but it’s only truly beneficial when there is a relationship to compliment the information. We all understand that contacts come in handy when there’s a position to be filled, whether someone is required to complete a project or partner on a collaboration or help fill seats. In order for this connection to be comfortably successful, there has to be a bond between the requester and the requestee. You don’t necessarily need to memorize the names and ages of your contacts kids (although that won’t hurt), but it is essential to maintain a professional relationship.
For example, I was shooting on-location and it seemed as if everything that could go wrong did. I could’ve panicked and jeopardized the shoot but instead I calmly referred to my contacts whom I have a great rapport with and they came through in the clutch! This has actually happens more times than I’m happy to admit, but, for me, it’s the nature of the business so it’s best to always be prepared. Sidenote: “Keep composure even when everything falls apart. The key is to be proactive to prevent it from getting worse because it could ALWAYS be worse.”
Whether last minute or planned way in advance, your contacts will be most willing to assist in anyway they can based on how much they value your relationship. In my experience, a quality product as well as awesome referrals goes a long way to a lasting relationship and it works in both directions. When you pour all of your potential into your work to develop an awesome product, your work and work ethic will be noticed. This notation then turns into “I know someone I can recommend…” In addition, the more you refer quality contacts and clients, the more they will be referred to you… some people call this exchange karma.
Ironically as I was writing this post, I received a quality referral from 2 quality referrers. The client had not seen my work yet but trusted the opinion of both of my referrers so much that they were ready to book me immediately. Word of mouth goes a long way, but we must remember that word of mouth is fueled by our relationships!
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