It’s About Giving Your All


Back in early October I wrote an article about seizing opportunity where ever it arises, in this case the beginning of Occupy Philadelphia, titled Opportunity in the Streets. I really didn’t know what business I might get out of that but I am happy to say that those images and thousands I took at the occupy encampment has led to other shoots and events that I was only able to get because I was there.


Through meeting people at Occupy I have gotten events, portrait shoots and a number of other gigs that have kept me very busy over the 56 days that the movement occupied Dilworth Plaza in from of City Hall in Philadelphia. So in a sense I guess I am indebted to the people there and the movement too. But how did a political demonstration/movement/evolution really give me chances to get work?

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A Different Level

I have asked this before and I will ask it again: “Where does networking end? “


I am a member of a group called PRE (Professional Referral Exchange) that meets every Thursday for lunch and networking. PRE has a unique view on networking because at PRE networking never ends. In fact the premise is that we work as each other’s sales force; always trying to promote not just ourselves but others in the group as well.



Our PRE group is original in a number of ways, and not just because we are a group of professionals that want to help each other in any way we can. A PRE group enlists as many professionals as it can but only one representative of each business category; for example I am the only photographer in the group, Walter is the Personal Financial Manager, Dana the one Business Banker, Bob the only website designer, and so on.
As I mentioned before we are each other’s sales force. Of course I have made referrals and introductions to bring two businesses together, but it goes beyond that. We truly do work for each other. Just yesterday I was at the local Home Depot picking up a few things and one of them being fuses, a woman and I started talking about the cost of electricity and how expensive power is getting. Well in our PRE group we have a gentleman who is in the power supply business. This gentleman also happens to be a pastor and his name is Paster, so we call him Pastor Paster.


I took the time to speak to the woman I met in line at Home Depot and told her that Pastor Paster could possibly help her with her energy bills and that he is not the type person that just goes knocking on doors, he will only speak about his power business when asked. I gave her my card and Pastor Paster’s card and we parted ways.


That is what is different about PRE, not only do we make recommendations and introductions but we are willing to tell people about our colleagues’ businesses. By spending one lunch a week together we learn about each other and our businesses on a whole different level. This gives us a unique ability to be advocates for each other.  It feels good to know that there is someone other than myself out there driving my business forward, but it is an even better feeling helping others drive their businesses.


‘Da-Ra’ and friend

Our group is a bit different than other PRE groups too; we tend to be a bit goofy at times but that makes it fun and makes it more personal too. Our president Eleanor had a brief speech impediment one week and had problems introducing our new Real Estate Agent, Damon as “Raymond… Damon, Da-Ra!” and this shall now be his name forever; well at least on Thursday’s at lunchtime.


We have a heckler lawyer, a twisting (as in the dance) large format print man, a guitar playing and singing fulfillment coach, a salsa dancing personal beauty consultant, a former football star now travel consultant, a motorcycle riding small business legal consultant, a highly fashionable Internet Cash Flow Consultant, and a slightly psychotic photographer-wait, that would be me!


My point is that we not only do business with each other, we do business for each other.


My name is Michael Albany, photographer; who can I introduce you to today?

Where Does Networking End?


Where Does Networking End? The short answer: it doesn’t.


I went to and ASMP event last night and met with a number of models, photographers and representatives. For some of the people I spoke with it was just the beginning of our relationships, with others it was a continuation. I spoke with a number of people and with most, I probably won’t do direct business.


In speaking with other photographers I was able to help them find the types of models they want or need for projects they are involved in. With others I was able to introduce them to some of the representatives there and put people together.  Sometime in the future I hope that they will do the same for me, introduce me to the people I want or need to meet to complete my projects. Networking.

So when does the networking end? Never. Networking is a continuous process where you meet people, introduce people to others and generally just help others. That is the beauty of it, it is giving. In the spirit of the season giving is always a good thing. By giving, some day that karma will come back to you and you will be introduced to the people you need to meet.


Many people think that networking is just doing their pitch and hoping to land a deal or at least generate interest in their product or service. That is sales not networking.


The idea of networking is to take the time to help others. In time as you build your network you become connected, by degrees, to others that know of you and your business and therefore can ‘advertise’ for you. The process builds upon itself and you start to generate a buzz about you and your abilities. But how?


If you go to networking events expecting to land a deal or get direct leads the chances are you will get a reputation as a person who pushes and sells themselves. In networking the idea is to build a web of connections that will become a larger net that can be cast out into the world and eventually be drawn together and capturing those leads. These nets as they are, are made by reputation.


To grow your reputation, I have found that it is best to be helpful to others. To give selflessly by introducing people to others than can mutually benefit builds my reputation as a person that is helpful, respectful and generally easy to work with. That is a reputation that I want to precede me when I meet potential clients after the events I attend.


The drawback, as it were, is that I don’t often get direct prospects at events like last night. I do however invest in the long term and I may get a result in a month or a year, or even longer. But the word is out there and others know that I am there to help. They know that when it comes to photographers I am one that is helpful, responsive, and willing to do what it takes to help others achieve their goals. That is what my business is based on too. I want to help you achieve your goals. My specialty is to do it through imagery.

All This Networking. Now What?


How about family networking?  It is the season. In fact here in the US it’s almost Thanksgiving and although many people think it is a time to eat and watch American football that is not what it is all about. In fact it’s not even really about the food either.


A few hundred years ago people new to the continent gave thanks to a bountiful harvest after a drought earlier in the year. They were grateful that they had managed, mostly due to the assistance of the native people, that they would have food throughout the coming winter months. This is said to be the first Thanksgiving; the year was 1621.


Over time we have learned how to grow and harvest food that can sustain millions through the winter months. Although we are still grateful for a bountiful harvest; that is not the true reason we should be grateful. At least, it shouldn’t be the only reason.
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