This Guest Post is written by Jordan from Prodigy Photography. Through his involvement in Social Dynamics, Jordan learned how to network like a champion, which has allowed him to start a business taking photos at all the big name events in the Calgary area. He also does photography for peoples personal use.
When I first started going out 2 years ago I was fresh, like a grade 9 graduate on his first day of high school fresh. Everything was new and exciting. I was just getting into the community and was beginning to push every belief and value I held for myself. I tested the strains of what it meant to live life in a social aspect.
For the first few months I went to the club and paid for everything: cover, drinks, coat check… etc. Without knowing anyone to assist you or make things more enjoyable in the club things can be expensive or create more issues for you then you would expect. My hope with this article is to share with you the key fundamentals I learned along the way, on how you can create options with a strong network base.
The first big lesson I learned is to take the initiative to get to know someone. This means becoming friends with anyone and everyone. You don’t do this because you want something from them, rather you would just like to meet someone new. This applies to everyone; the bartender, the busser, bouncers at the bar or whomever you would like to become friends with. Think about the manager of a night club for a second: He is spending 6 hours a day minimum at the club when it’s open, he is taking care of 400-900 people at any given time while managing the staff and taking care of anyone else in the club that may be special (big name people). So why would they talk to you? You have to make the initial effort to introduce yourself and get to know them around their schedule. Just walking up to a person and saying hello is not an effort, which leads me to my next lesson: Persistence and Patience.
Being persistent and patient to getting to know someone is crucial (ESPECIALLY when it comes to networking with bar staff), if you only allow one interaction to get to know someone he or she will very likely forget who you are. You have to be willing to take the time and effort to create and maintain a connection; otherwise you will have a person who remembered your name at one point, but not someone who continues to remember you night after night.
When talking to someone use his or her name! I cannot stress this enough. Don’t use “hey man, dude, bro, buddy”. These are all superficial and are not genuine! People will see through it. When I am talking to whoever it may be, I address them by their first name or the name that they wish to be called by. It is a sign of respect that all employers look highly upon. By saying someone’s name it shows that you care enough about them to remember their name and you pay attention to the details. Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves, and this is sub-communicated through saying their name. When someone says your name, you feel more important. It’s a source of validation. So use this concept and apply it to your networking. When you say their name, they feel more important; you are the source of this “validation”, so they want to be around you more. Easy peezy.
You also need to understand where power lies and respect what it offers. The head bouncer is the start of every nightclub and could easily be the end if you do not give respect where it is due, and it also means that they can stop the line and let you though without paying cover. The first thing to look for is anyone with an earpiece in at the club (Bouncers, Managers and even head bartenders sometimes have these in to communicate effectively). These are the people you want to get to know over anyone else in the club. These people are the ones who can make or break you in the industry! Now keep in mind: bussers, bartenders and tub girls are still very high value and worth getting to know. They can take your coat, give you drinks, and over all just be sick friends and an in to a club through a guest list.
A relationship between 2 people is a continuous exchange of value, without consciously thinking about value we act on this every day. Whether we talk on the phone or grab a coffee, there is always an exchange of value that occurs. If a buddy is always asking for money or trying to get something from you every time you see each other you will quickly disconnect ties with him or her. When you feel “used” there is no reason to keep wasting your time. Just like your friends this still applies to the club. If you cannot offer value they will not keep hooking you up with VIP access, drinks, etc. Offering these people value can be the starting of a friendship, and hooking up your friends is very easy to do.
One thing that really helped me with networking is offering a coffee to the bouncers or staff at the club. This is $2.00 value you provide that is not seen merely as $2.00 but the fact that you thought about them when you were going to get coffee. Now don’t call and ask if they want a coffee; that beats the purpose of offering value (it needs to be unconditional). Have no other reason that you are doing it other than being a nice person. People will notice this! A coffee can get you no line no cover without even asking for it. This is the exchange of value that I explained earlier.
Now here is a funny little tidbit: by creating a guest list with a bartender it gives them value. This is because clubs have a point system where the bartenders (and tub girls) need to meet a quota for bringing people into the club. By being the nice person you have been raised to be, you can offer value by just getting a guest list through a bartender’s name. This exchange of value is crucial to maintaining a relationship between the two of you.
Opportunities will only rise if you give yourself the chance to receive them. There will be numerous times just like in all areas of life that you will have opportunities thrown in your face. If you do not take the opportunity to get that once in a lifetime chance it will pass you by. Most of these chances you have to create for yourself. This chance may rise when you least expect it, so you have to be willing to take any opportunity even if it is not the best time for you.
Let me give you an example: When I first started going out to Roadhouse I was paying cover ($6.00) a night, four nights a week. This expense occurred for the first 2 months of going out. The reason why I was paying cover is because I was not paying any attention to the people that ran the place. I started talking to the head bouncer and had a few shots with him on my own expense, from those shots alone he offered to give me no line no cover whenever I needed it. From the one interaction of buying a bouncer I just saved about $100 per month because of the value I provided by just being a nice person. From there I would always shake his hand, along with every other bouncer at Roadhouse. As I kept going to the club I started talking the bartenders and getting to know them better, just through talking with them I started having my coat checked for free and could get free pop. This was a point where things started going really well (no line, no cover, my coat is being checked for free and I’m no longer drinking water at the club – Total cost = $0.00). Now I have a strong network at Roadhouse, where I am constantly bringing people into the club so the value that I am giving back to them is equal value.
Fast-forward one year…
I performed this exact method with another club: 355 Mansion. And now I can show up there anytime as well.
One night I was talking with the manager and he mentioned that he was looking to bring more people to the club, and could hook guys up with guest bartending spots if they could bring people. I knew my friend Brian wanted to get into nightclub bartending. I talked with the manager to get the introduction for Brian; 2 weeks later he had his chance to be a guest bartender at Mansion. That one chance was the opportunity that allowed him to work at a nightclub fulltime. (Where he is now a manager at the club. Because I was the original source of this contact, the manager will never forget the enormous value I brought him, through Brian.)
About a week later I decided to purchase a camera. I wanted to get into photography as a hobby, to take my lifestyle to the next level. I hear from Brian that the manager is looking for a photographer at the club and suggests me. That same relationship I worked for Brian is now helping me get a job as a photographer in the club. Brian and I are best friends; we don’t expect value from each other it just happens because we want to rather than having to.
I head out on a Tuesday night for Mansion’s ladies night and start shooting for the first time at a club. The DJ at Mansion grabs my information – he is looking for a photographer.
That same week I head to Roadhouse on Thursday night for their ladies night. While there I let the manager know that I am now into photography, and that I am shooting for 355 Mansion. I am now the main photographer for Roadhouse!
Saturday comes along; I am snowboarding with my dad at Lake Louise. It is plus 15 outside and I’m going down the hill at 65-70km/h with nothing but the sun in the sky. I get a phone call mid-run from the DJ asking if I can come down to 355 Mansion to do a photo shoot that night. They are willing to pay. Realizing that this can become a big opportunity I tell him I’ll be down there. He was so impressed with the photos that he wanted to continue working with me.
I am now working with a Club and Promotions company in Calgary.
Next Friday rolls around and I’m going to the Old Spaghetti Factory to shoot my friends comedy show. I get a call just as I get there from the DJ again; he is calling to ask if I can come and shoot the Tiesto Concert for him; the guy they had lost his ID. I tell him without even thinking I will be there in 20 minutes. I meet him in 10 at the concert office box and pick up the media pass for Tiesto. As I’m shooting I meet other photographers and end up meeting the photographer for Klub OMFG. This is one of the most connected photographers in Canada working with numerous brands such as Jagermeister, Union to name a few. After talking with him after the event I am now working with him as an assistant photographer. This hobby that was supposed to be just that, a hobby, has turned into shooting for the largest names in the world: Union, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren , Markus Schulz, Wippenberg, and all the big name clubs in Calgary (The Roadhouse, 355 Mansion, BMO Centre, Republik).
I would not be where I am today without the network base I have created with the knowledge I have. All of this has become possible because I took the initiative to start getting to know everybody at the club, instead of only viewing people as whether or not I wanted something from them. I met everybody possible, knowing that each person you meet has a unique opportunity they can present you. I made sure I brought value to each and every person first, and didn’t expect anything in return. I took the INITIATIVE to create these options for myself, and continued to be patient and persistent, so every person I met would remember me and we could begin to form a friendship. The craziest part of this all is that the majority of these opportunities I am now being presented with were formed from the initial network connections I made a few years ago, when I started to learn about networking.
If you want to start learning how to network, I would recommend start with getting guest lists at the club. Start with tub girls, and move your way up to bartenders, then bouncers and ultimately managers. MEET EVERYBODY. Think about how you can take these connections you are making and take them to the next level. See if you can meet with a bouncer for a drink outside the club. See if there is something you can do for them. Implement the concepts I talked about in this article and you will begin to reap the benefits of having a strong network base.
Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to hit me up!
Jordan runs a photography company called “Prodigy Photography”. He is available for all types of photography work. Contact him and mention you read this article, and you will receive 25% off any photography project! (Cam: Looking for some cool profile pictures? Hit Jordan up, he will make you look dope and it will be CHEAP.)