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If you’re following me on Instagram (I mean, I really hope you are), you saw that I was in New York last week with Jessica. She had to go up for a wedding and decided to make a work trip out of it. I, of course, was super pumped when she asked me to join/tag along. I haven’t been to NYC since Fashion Week and have been dying to go back ever since. One of my favorite things about visiting the city, aside from the food, is that a lot of my industry is actually based in the city. Not much of a surprise, right?
We planned a ton of meetings with some of our favorite brands and agencies and I was really excited to connect with the faces I interact with over email on a regular basis. Well, the weather had other plans.
It snowed and rained and was freezing AF outside. So, instead of making it about 80% of our meetings (thanks to cancellations), we decided to make the most out of our experience. This included coffee + nap dates at our home for the week (shoutout to the coolest hotel ever. The Yotel literally felt like a scene from the Jetsons), epic food tours across the city and lots of work sessions at coffee shops.
The whole experience inspired me to take a step back and evaluate just how crucial professional relationships can be. I mean, it’s nothing groundbreaking. Networking is key to any job but when you’re self employed and work from home 99.9% of the time, building positive relationships and maintaining those relationships can actually get a little tricky…but they’re still totally important. Especially when you live in a city that is basically non existent when it comes to fashion contacts. Keeping up with the folks in other cities that decide whether or not you’re going to get any work – let’s just say I have a love/hate relationship.
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The Five Professional Relationships You Need…
- The Work Date: whether you work from home, work in an office, are self employed, run your own business or work for a large team, everyone needs that person that you can just go work with. This can be more than one person obviously but surrounding yourself with people that have similar passions and work ethic that can also keep you company during a much needed work session…that’s key.
- The Teacher: this relationships is crucial because let’s be real, we should never stop learning. Make sure you have relationships with others that are constantly teaching you new things in the business world. Whether it’s specific to your industry or to business sin general, this is super helpful to growing your brand.
- The Lookout: we all know that one person who is always passing along new opportunities to their network. Make sure you have a handful of them in your corner. These folks are usually well connected and have their hands in a lot of pots. They’re a great connection to have when you’re looking for new business, a new job, new team members, etc.
- The Competitor: this might surprise you but I’m a firm believer that you should stay connected with your “competition”. They can be friends or that can be acquaintances the same networking group as you, but either way, you need to stay in touch with folks competing for that next piece of new business, the next promotion, etc. Learn from each-other and utilize the other person as an extra level of motivation!
- The Client: this is different for everyone but the most important relationship, at least in my eyes, is the one with your client or customer. Who is the person writing you checks? For me, this covers brands, agency partners, etc. I like to keep those relationships as up to date and friendly as possible!
I recently started taking a few extra steps to maintain these important relationships so I thought I’d share. Again, I’m not sharing anything groundbreaking but these are all things that I just wasn’t doing before…and my business was hurting because of it. After making a few changes, I realized just how impactful the maintenance of the working relationships we have can be.
Tip 1: keep an updated contact list.
Tip 2: always think about the mutually beneficial aspect of a relationship.
Tip 3: don’t be afraid to expand your list.
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Pro Tip: Setup as many in person meetings and “connects” as you can. Nothing beats the intimacy and direct-ness of a great face to face! Although the majority of our meetings were cancelled due to the weather, it was great to connect with some of our favorite brands & agencies in person to catch up and discuss new opportunities.
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