I've done a few different versions of this topic over the years, but after this week's WPPI show it's obvious that I need to find a way to get more people to read it!
At every major convention everyone meets more people. It's a time when you simply add more layers to your network. It's a time to add more depth and bring people into your network to complement your short suits. Each new person is a potential new friendship and you'll be surprised over the years ahead how important some of these people will become, but as these friendships grow, it's important to build them on a solid foundation of great communication and truth.
Do your best to build these new friendships by staying away from the rumor mill, AKA the "grapevine". Seriously, is there anybody who hasn't heard, “Please don’t share this with anybody, but…?” That comment is usually followed by everything from pure gossip to serious heads-up stories about something related to the industry, their personal lives, business etc. You can’t stop people from sharing unsubstantiated stories with you, but you can prevent feeding the rumor mill.
At any convention the rumor mill is running at maximum speed and sadly efficiency, but there's a difference between efficiency and accuracy. That means I'm suggesting everybody follow my buddy, Levi Sim's, classic one liner:
"Always act as if your grandmother was watching you!"
Here's the first rule: If you don’t want people to know something then don’t tell anybody! With social media, everybody has the potential to influence thousands of people. Just be responsible and don't spread rumors that are unsubstantiated.
For the second rule, let's talk about making sure you know who you're talking to. If you are going to share something that’s confidential or maybe you just don’t want anybody to know you’re the source, then be careful who you choose to bring under the cone of silence! (Maxwell Smart was just ahead of his time.)
We're really a very small industry. When you're a new photographer or new to a major convention, you don't realize how many of us have worked together. I was at Hasselblad when I first met Dan Steinhardt and Mike Gurley who are at Epson and Canon, respectively. They were both at Kodak. Darin Pepple at Panasonic I met when he was at FujiFilm. I met Rocky Bowles from SmugMug when she was with Kodak and I was in my early days at Rangefinder. Now scale all of this up by a factor of a thousand and you've got the same scenario repeated all over the industry.
Just remember, you never know when you’re talking about somebody or something and there's really another company who’s listening by proxy. So many of us share the same friendships and even the same legacy of companies in our history and we all try and watch each others backs!
The third rule I've written a lot about: If it’s really confidential, but you need to share the information, have people sign a non-disclosure statement. Use Google and you’ll find dozens of examples free on line. This is an extreme case, but if it’s something critical to your business and you need the input of another party, a non-disclosure statement puts the right perspective on the information and stresses its importance.
And the last rule…Be quiet and don’t share information that isn’t appropriate to pass on. Work to maintain trust with your clients, your associates and your friends.
“In almost every profession - whether it's law or journalism, finance or medicine or academia or running a small business - people rely on confidential communications to do their jobs. We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it.” Hillary Clinton
Photo Credit: © Darklord_71 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images