The importance of relationships for individuals and their businesses

We often overlook the people closest to us

By:​ Christopher Claxton

Two of my friends and I on location at a recent photoshoot. Credit: Christopher Claxton

As humans, we are social creatures, our relationships power our mental, emotional and physical health. Our personal well-being goes hand-in-hand with our personal relationships, they fuel each other in a sense. 

The closer we feel to the people in our lives the happier we are. I enjoy quality time with my loved ones but I didn’t realize how important these relations were till I started a photography business.

When I decided to take my photography @Something_Light_Media from a hobby into a business, I didn’t know how saturated the market was in NYC. Everyone’s a photographer and the consumer has so many options so how can I separate myself from the crowd?

What makes an individual or product stand out more than the work itself is the compliments and praise they receive from others. Ambitious people without skills, talents, or even basic education can succeed just by being at the right place at the right time and saying the right things to the right people.

Being great at what you do is no longer enough, people can fast forward others’ careers just from word of mouth. Most people have read about or know someone who was unqualified but got an opportunity anyway just from someone else’s view on them.

 If you’re talented and the product you have to offer is indeed worth it, then the claims of others will be proven by your own merit. 

Your best bet is to practice to become the best you can be, make your product worth the praise and simultaneously surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. 

Model: Cheyenne Paul. Credit: Christopher Claxton- Something Light Media

These genuine relationships not only give you the love, support, and encouragement you need to survive, but it also provides the first customers for your business. I offered friends free photo shoots in exchange for honest feedback and a shoutout if they did actually like the photos I took of them. 

My relationships gave me the opportunity to build a portfolio, but I also learned some new skills and put them into practice. When you provide the service your business is offering for free to the people around you a deal is created that works for both parties; you get some great content or feedback, get to work on your new talents or product, while the friend gets the product you’ve been working hard on to use free of charge.

Now you’re being set up to reach your ideal client. I started taking portraits of any friend who would allow me. 

Doing this, I built better bonds with my friends, got some great pictures, and figured out what I needed to work on and secured clients that would pay me in the future. They provided free exposure by sharing the images I took of them and complimented me on my work. 

Now there’s more eyes on what I have to offer. This will result in a significant amount of clients from the word of mouth process, growing your business. My first few paid photoshoots were based off recommendations of my friends.

Now that your business has reached the audience, it is intended that you need to build relationships with new and potential clients. You need to set yourself apart from the competition by offering personalized experiences to your customers similar to the ones you offered to your friends. 

A first impression is a lasting impression, when you first communicate with a potential client you need to build a real relationship with them. Customers will be more comfortable and continue to work with you and your business if they feel they know you personally.

The goal is to cultivate and nurture relationships with customers and your friends. Whatever the interaction, be fully engaged. 

Hold conversations as if you were talking to someone you already know. Relationships are crucial to a successful business, commerce and publicity brings another layer of value to your work.

Model: Raquelle Querido. Credit: Christopher Claxton- Something Light Media


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