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When I talk to someone starting out in the business world, or earlier if possible, to emphasize the importance of building your network. Personally and professionally. It’s probably the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.

I read about this successful photographer the other day. God bless him for telling his story to anyone who would bother to read his one, Instagram story. He talked about how he spent 6 years in university getting his degree in photography. His journey until he started regularly and comfortably working with high-level clients.

There was one part of his story that really got me. When he graduated from university and arrived in London, he had a few hundred pounds, a backpack and phone number. That phone number was for an Art Director of a big magazine. He didn’t mention who the phone number came from. But obviously someone he knew/met. He eventually called the number and the Art Director recommended he speak with a photographer they knew who had an amazing client list. When he called the photographer, he became his assistant. I’ve heard similar stories. A beginning photographer will assist an established one. An incredible way to learn. Needless to say, a fantastic opportunity. The rest is history.

The thing is: it started with a phone number and probably, a good recommendation from the person who gave him the phone number to the Art Director, that created the opportunity of a lifetime. It was a connection he had.

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For a long time, I wasn’t a very good networker. Especially in my IT consulting business I had for 15 years. I got referrals from happy clients. I didn’t have to network. But this would catch up with me in a big way later…. When I did everything I had wanted to do with IT and wanted to get back into corporate work. The difficulty of finding work after a certain age.

How about starting a new career? From scratch? And already having a poor network?

Initially, I was a little envious about the photographer when I read his story. But he had his challenges too. He was young. He didn’t know how to handle the pressure. He didn’t have very many life and business skills. He almost quit photography altogether even after doing a shoot for a major clothing manufacturer. The pressure. I totally get it. Me, now? I’d be like “Who’s next?” However, I've been burned at the stake. I've walked into the lions den. That's just experience giving me an advantage.

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Developing my network is simply something I’ve had to build and continue since I started this journey. It’s another obstacle. We all have them. Different but we all have them. I don’t worry about it. I do my best and being a man of God, believe He will bring me the people I need to accomplish. He provides.

But before God will help you, you have to help yourself first. Locking yourself up in your apartment all day isn't going to do the trick! Go out. Anywhere. That's where it starts. Whatever you do, do a great job. Be so good that people will remember. Treat people well.

You're welcome!

Ricardo Gomez Photography

Originally from San Francisco, Ricardo is now a New York-based photographer specializing in editorial and commercial photography.
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