Relationships are key. Being relational beats strategy any day. It builds longevity in business and careers. We’ve worked out two principles to help you on your way – in the musical world but evenly more widely across life.
Much of this we learnt by stumbling across it, though quite a bit through making mistakes. Life is impossible to navigate alone and nothing is more rewarding than helping others along the way. The magic is that when you look out for others they look out for you – in a natural, organic and unforced way. They’ll also stick with you in the long run and not abandon you at the first sign of troubles or a rocky road. Those are the kind of people we want to work with, and work for!
This is the way we want to do business: building up others and watching them fly. If they do us favours (unasked for) along the way then all the better, but it’s not a prerequisite for working with us. We’re a “value add” company – adding value to other’s products (and dreams) rather than stepping on them to achieve our own goals.
DON’T NETWORK, JUST MAKE FRIENDS
It’s easier to say than do, but it’s such a simple axiom. People smell inauthenticity a mile off – they know if you’re talking to them just because you want something, and if they feel that then they’re less likely to give it to you. You can be upfront about it – which is fine – but we’ve found the most favours we’ve received are simply from people we know or are friends with. It really is that simple!
We always want to help people out. We try to reply to every correspondence we get, we always give feedback when it’s asked for, we give away stuff for free. Our blogs (particularly the informative ones) aren’t just for our own community but for everyone; you don’t have to be signed to Bespoke to benefit from the stuff we’re up to, or the stuff we’re learning on the way. We’ve found this spirit of “open-handedness” breeds favours in return – it puts us in a hotchpotch community of people all figuring stuff out together and helping each other out when we can.
Don’t elbow your way across a room to your “prize person” because you have a specific thing you want from the conversation. Engage (and be polite!) to everyone, you never quite know who people are, who they know, or certainly where they’ll be in five years. No one forgets someone who’s used and abused them, but likewise no one forgets people who’ve given them something for free or even just been a nice person. Honour everyone, and always listen more than you talk.
YOU CAN OFTEN DO MORE FOR PEOPLE THAN THEY CAN DO FOR YOU
People’s disposition is to want something from everyone – we’re a naturally greedy species. But if everyone needs something… surely everyone could give something? We feel most generous when people are generous towards us – but it works the other way round too. We’re more likely to receive when we’ve given out (generosity: giving without asking in return), so why are we so focused on receiving rather than giving? If we can change this mindset, switch around the viewpoint, far greater things can be achieved, and by everyone involved. Replace “What’s in this for me?” with “What can I do for you?”, it really is better to give than to receive (though often you can end up unexpectedly receiving anyway!).
Genuine friendships breed favours – people always want to give their friends opportunities before others, however deserving the stranger. Artists want to tour with their mates in the band even if they’re not the best musicians. Support act slots are often given to friends of the headliner over other acts needing the exposure (excluding buy-ons of course). Ignore the “don’t ask, don’t get” mentality and just look out for your friends, and even your non-friends.
As a note – don’t try to build a friendship with the subtle/long term intention of receiving something from the other participant. That’s not a true friendship, and people can see through it. Are you there for them in the hard times? Do you throw opportunities their way just because you’re mates? Look out for others, and others will look out for you. Plus you end up with more friends, which is no bad way to live! We’ve seen this lived out time and time again, so we’re over trying to get things for ourselves. Instead we’re asking: ‘What can we do for you?’