Are You as Good with People as You Are with a Camera?

Magazine editors, art directors, wedding couples and even portrait subjects place a priority on people skills. It’s probably the most overlooked and yet most important quality that any photographer brings to the job. It’s the one that’s most likely to get you hired again — and again and again.

There’s no time like the present to brush up on your people skills. I include myself here.

Turning Transactions into Relationships

Whenever I see my business slowing, my relationships are the first thing I think about. By returning to my current clients and following up, I almost always see an opportunity to improve my business. And every time I do, I am rewarded financially for my efforts.

A classic book on the subject is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which is available free online. Also along these lines is a wonderful little read called Mr. Shmooze: The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships, which you can order though Amazon.

Working with people is about turning a transaction into a relationship. Building long-term, sustainable relationships helps you create an income stream that is long-term and sustainable.

Smile! — and Other Tips

Here are some specific suggestions for building and maintaining personal relationships:

  • Smile — even when you’re on the phone
  • Write handwritten thank you notes
  • Pick up the phone and call someone, rather than sending an e-mail
  • Make a lunch date
  • Schedule a face-to-face meeting
  • Remember birthdays and anniversaries
  • Show a willingness to negotiate
  • Create pleasant surprises for your clients
  • Display exceptional customer service — every time
  • Donate services, prints or both to a worthy cause

It isn’t smart anymore (and really never has been) to assume your work will be the deciding factor in whether an editor hires you for a magazine assignment, an art director accepts your bid for a commercial project, or a wedding couple selects you for their big day. There are people between you and each of these assignments. You have to win over the people before you can consistently win the assignments.

I encourage you to take on the challenge of being a better people person. I also would love to hear your own tips on building relationships, as well as any recommended books to read on this subject.

[tags]photography advice, photography business [/tags]

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