Every venture in the world requires some level of face-to-face contact and networking skills. Your video production business is no different. There are certain networking principles that come in handy and I’m going to discuss the top four here.
While it’s possible to obtain your first clients through online ads or classified sites like Craigslist, most videographers come to find that their best, highest-paying jobs are the result of word of mouth and cooperation with other companies.
Those companies might be local businesses that you’ve produced a video for, or they could even be other video production companies that you’ve worked together with before. Passing work to “rivals” happens a lot in all industries for a variety of reasons — most often due to a company being overloaded with work and having to outsource some to another business.
And, let’s face it, networking is also ideal because it’s free. It doesn’t cost a dime to be referred by somebody.
Networking Principle Number One: Reputation
People naturally have a tendency to want to reward the good behavior of others. The first principle of network marketing is to uphold your reputation. If you go above and beyond the call of duty, those clients will remember you and tell everybody they know.
- pricing your service fairly,
- quick turnaround (not spending 8 months in post-production and making up excuses for why the job is late),
- being pleasant and courteous; and of course,
- having the knowledge to deliver a good product.
As we’ve mentioned before on the site, this can be the start of a beautiful professional network.
Bad reputations spread just as quickly as good ones. If there’s an angel and a devil on your shoulder, and the devil is whispering in your ear to price gouge or cheat to make quicker profit, it would be wise to fire the devil and listen to the angel.
Another big part of your reputation is how you treat your employees or sub-contractors. As you see here and there in the video production world, it might be tempting to try to exploit cheap, free labor by relying entirely on interns and students from your local video or film school.
However, paying your assistants is always good business — not to mention good humanity. And it will go a long way toward you being considered an upfront, decent and fair company. The sad truth is that a lot of companies underpay or fail to pay their staff. Don’t be one of them.
Further, from a purely selfish point of view, paying people who help you out builds value. As we’ve discussed before, people don’t always respect things that are view. This is true when you’re working on a project for a client, but it’s also true when you’re compensating people for the work they do for you. They’ll do a better job for you this time (and next time) if they know they’re respected enough to earn money for their investment of time, energy and expertize.
Networking Principle Number Two: Allies Not Enemies
- Equipment sharing when your company needs a Steadicam and the other company needs one of your prime lenses.
- Backup on large productions when you don’t have enough manpower to handle a big job.
- Post production assistance when the neighboring company is overwhelmed.
- And most importantly, client sharing when a company is fully booked.
It will do absolutely no good to be at each other’s throats. As a new production company, one of your first jobs is going to be reaching out to “competing” companies and offering all of the above types of assistance to them. You can do this via video production job boards, as well as simply getting yourself out there by emailing video production companies local to you.
To give you some inspiration, here are some job boards places where you can look for video production and film work:
That should give you a good start.
Keep in mind that an established video company is going to be concerned about their first principle (reputation), and so they won’t want to do business with a company that does not share their values.
Imagine if you’re known for quick turnaround and professional behavior, and you subcontract with a new company that is completely derelict; it would immediately hurt you. So if you’re a new company, it’s going to be hard to network with very established companies until your own reputation is built. Be prepared to be met with a lot of skepticism. Sorry to be negative, but I’m just being honest.
However, there are some ways you might be able to overcome this. A high quality, professional website is one (easy to make with WordPress). Another way is to have an amazing demo reel on Vimeo. A third way is to present yourselves as a cohesive team instead of just looking like some random person with a video camera. That can be presented in a strong way online, too — for that, see my Complete Guide to Website For Video Businesses.
Networking Principle Number Three: Quantity
It’s always better to have an abundance of connections and more work than you can handle. This means you should network with as many other video companies as you can, setting up meetings and pitching the benefits of cooperation.
However, you also need to keep your own reputation in mind. Check out every company on Yelp first (if they’re listed) and pay attention to what people say about them. Obviously, steer clear of any company with a sketchy background.
Even the best companies get angry clients and one-star reviews. However, if you notice a trend of bad reviews, with people saying the same thing over and over — stay away from those people. (Examples include slow turnaround or impatient, rude staff).
Another thing to keep in mind when you are setting up these meetings with affiliate companies are the types of deals you’re arranging. You need to avoid situations where you’re obviously getting the bad end, even if you’re desperate for business.
An example might be: “We’ll send some clients your way, but with a 70/30 split, so you can keep 30% of what they pay us”.
In that arrangement, they’re keeping most of the profit and doing none of the work. An exception to this is if their clients include Warner Brothers and Sony Studios, and so the 30% split for your company is thousands and thousands of dollars!
If, however, their clients are birthday parties and graduations, and you’re making pennies for doing all their work — then stay away.
Networking Principle Number Four: Mingle
Finally, the key to both finding clients organically and finding video companies to ally with, is to get out of the house. You can’t successfully network entirely from your office. You need to be mindful of meet-ups, industry events and cocktail parties.
Have your elevator pitch ready, and plenty of business cards. It’s amazing how a video company can find clients in the most unlikely places. That random person you met at a wine tasting mixer may have an insurance company that needs a commercial done, and your company just earned a ten thousand dollar contract.
If you’re not sure where to start for finding networking events, typically Meetup.com is a good choice. You can also find events. And never underestimate the power of going to local charity events.
Starting off, it can be a little tiring going to networking events and constantly trying to “hustle” when all you want to do is work and get some money coming in. However, this is a practice that pays off in the long run, and it’s not necessarily about on-the-spot results.
In Conclusion: Networking Principles
Many successful video production companies rely almost entirely on powerful networks, as well as their solid reputations, to ensure a steady stream of clients.
By mastering the ability to foster relationships, cooperate with competing companies, and seeking out clients the old-fashioned way by meeting and mingling, you can get launched without spending hundreds of dollars on ads and listings. This is the backbone of most professional video companies.
I hope you found this article about networking principles helpful. As always, don’t forgot to share this post on your favorite social media of choice (or all of them!), and drop us a comment below!