The Naive Way To Build A Network
If you know anything about me, you know that building a powerful network around you to me is one of the cornerstones of not only building a successful business, but building a successful foundation around your business and your life so that each business that you build after that gets stronger and stronger while you lift up all of the people with in your network so they can raise their heights as well while giving credit to the people who have taught you. The people that are above you in your network, the ones who you have mentored through, the ones you have learned from by giving them the credit for what you learn from them. The failure to build a powerful network around you I believe is one of the key reasons why so many people with great content and great ideas and great thoughts don’t get very far because they don’t have a network built around them.
So, I’ve learned this from some of the greats in the business world and it’s a cornerstone of what I work on daily on top of the content and the connections that I make. But there was a time that I did it the wrong way and I cringe when I think about the ways I went about it at certain times and when I see people who are still doing it the wrong way which the way so many people just see networking is in terms of what can I get. What can I get out of my network? What can I pull out of it that I need? And what I learned and so many people unfortunately learn going forward until they figure this out is that people don’t really care about how they can help you if you’ve not been a help to them and those around them to begin with. And it’s not a keeping score thing. It’s a thing when you’ve built up a following. You built something up. You generally trust the people who’ve been with you. You trust the people who’ve invested in you. You trust the people who have taken what you’ve taught them and actually did the work to make it successful. As opposed to the person that just reaches out and turns like hey can I use you? They don’t say it this way but they kind of mean it. Can I use you and your platform and your success to get what I want? And if you are around enough with these people, you would know how often they get pitched or asked to use their platform to make that person successful. And it doesn’t work.
Now there are your random times. I am all for being bold. I’m all for taking chances, but that’s the shot in the dark, but to do it the right way, to do it with generosity, to do it with a give first mentality is the way to build a powerful network. But so many people don’t do it. Either they don’t have the patience, or they don’t really get it. But I’ll give you a story about what I did way back as a young ambitious photographer, the one that wanted to connect and learn from the best.
When I was interning at Newsday in New York, I was consciously picking the brains of the photographers and who are the best photographer that you know? Who should I learn from? Dick York was one of my mentors in Newsday and he was a funny, outgoing, just always had a great time in the job and always was there to help me. He was one of the guys. He was always there giving me advice. I think he saw a lot in me and him when he was younger, and he was really doing his best to guide me because I really didn’t know what I was doing. Even though I kind of thought I did. It’s amazing how many times I see somebody that is starting out, and he has the. I got it figured out attitude and they are not really open for new advice. So, I really don’t go there any longer. I don’t really try to convince those people because I can tell that their eyes aren’t open yet to it. Hopefully someday it will be. But he was one of those that he saw what I was going to, he saw that I was trying to learn, and he did his best to help me out. And getting incredible mentors in your life is so valuable.
I said to Mike..who are the three photographers that you would follow if you are me. And this is before social medias so you can’t just type their name in and follow them Instagram. I need to do research and figure out who these people were. And he names the three and one that he named is Eddie Adams. In the photojournalism world, Eddie Adams is an icon. He runs the Eddie Adams workshop that every journalist wants to get into. It is a hand selected intensive workshop that he ran for years and years.
He is one of the most iconic photojournalists in the world. He was well known for his portraits of celebrities and politicians. He had photographed 13 wars. But what he is best known for the photograph he took in 1969 and it was the execution of a Vietcong soldier in the Vietnam War, which he won the Pulitzer Prize for. So, I had heard that he is one of the photographers that I need to get to know. I didn’t realize his status. I didn’t realize how big-time Eddie Adams was, but I just want to connect with the guy, and I want to see if I can ride along and work with him. I just thought that he was just some really great photographer that I could reach out to.
So, I went back to my apartment in Queens and just doing my research like I normally do, and I went inside to go to the phone book. Remember the phone book? Remember those things? I went back to the phone book and there were a couple of people named Eddie Adams. So, I start calling them, out of the phone book. The first couple ones that I call wasn’t that Eddie Adams, so I finally found one. I saw the address and I just thought this is him. So, I called him up and a woman answered. She is his daughter and I asked if Eddie Adams is there. She said who’s calling and I said this is Vincent and Dick York told me that I should connect with him and she said okay, hold on a second. A few seconds later there is man’s voice in the phone, and he sounds confused and said hello. I said “Hi Mr. Adams, this is Vincent. I am an Intern in Newsday New York and Dick York tell me how great of a photographer you are and that I should really try to get to learn from you. And he just sounded really confused and he said okay all right. I said well I was wondering if it would be possible if I could just ride along with you or spend the day with you and just learn from you. And he said well Vince, I tell you we are really busy, you know we got a flight, we are going overseas in a couple days and really kind of busy so I’m not sure if I can help you right now. I said okay and I thought I just give you a call and ask you and Good luck in your trip. He said alright thanks and he hung up all confused and I went on about my business. Okay, at least I know I give it a shot.
I went to the office the next day, and as were sitting down on the photo lab I said to Dick York that I called Eddie last night. And he stopped and turned his head and said what? I said I called Eddie Adams; I called his house last night to see if I can do a ride along with him. There were around three or four photographers in the room, and they all turned around towards me. He looked at me and he goes “you called Eddie Adams at his house?” and I was like yeah. you know, you said he is one of the best. He said you just don’t call Eddie Adams at his house. Do you even realize how big-time Eddie Adams is? And I said no, I’ve never heard of him before you mentioned him yesterday, so I figure I just call him, and they just had the greatest laugh about that because he had been running his workshop for years. He is an internationally acclaimed photographer. There are all these people just trying to get near him and learn from him, signing up for all the stuff, really kind of exclusive and I just picked up the phone naïve as I can be, called him in his house while they’re making dinner just to see if I can hang out right along with him.
As you might imagine, I never got a call back from Eddie Adams. I never got to ride along with him. I never got to meet in person, and he passed away unfortunately in 2004 I learned some really good lessons in that. Now I am all for being bold. I’m all for taking chances, but I probably would’ve got that ride along with Eddie Adams if I went about it differently. if I were a little bit more patient. If I were to talk to Dick York about it. If I would ask, possibly for an introduction. If I would’ve done things to support what Eddie Adams is doing. If I would have taken more time and thought about more about how I can help Eddie as opposed to how you can help me, I probably would’ve gotten that experience with him. But that I went about it so fast and so furious and so impatient, it gave me a really funny story and a great three minute conversation I had with the iconic Eddie Adams, but it never got me to where I can actually meet the guy and learn from a guy in person. So, there’s a lot to be said for taking action. There is a lot to be said for going after stuff, but there’s also a lot to be said about being patient and having a plan and building a network the right way. Building a network for the long term, as opposed to being shortsighted and going all in at once to get what you need to get but the chances are you are going to crash and burn when you do that and you are going to be left with no experience but just a funny story of you being a little bit too bold. So, as you hear in a future episode, patience and persistence is the key to success not only building a powerful network but in building a successful business. That story if you listen to it, it is in my book, Freelance the Freedom. We have made the audiobook free for you. We love for you to download it, consume it, get a ton out of it. If you want to find it, it is in our website. It’s totallifefreedom.com/F2Fbook and just go there download the book for free. I hope you enjoy it. I will talk to you tomorrow.