One of the most challenging parts of starting new projects is finding people to fill various roles. Need a website? That might be harder than it sounds to put together a decent page design. Likewise, it would help if you had someone skilled behind your social media accounts. However, while they're great resources, Facebook Marketplace and for hire threads on Reddit are not the simplest solution. But you have to start somewhere, right? So, why not starting with your relatives and close friends?
Networking with people closest to you is the safest (and probably the fastest) way to start a project. As long as I start experimenting with my professional life, my friends and I helped strengthen each other's projects and careers. You might think that you don't know anybody who is actually "someone" at "somewhere." Well, think again. Here is the fortunate truth: everyone you know is good at something.
Let's say you are ready to start a project. But before you reach out to any employment services, get your personal address book out and go through the list of people you have gone to school with or your previous co-workers. Think of anyone you've ever made a connection with and whose contact information you have. Those are all resources to help you get things done. Or at least to start with. Your friend network can quickly become a professional network.
Let me give you an example. In November of 2019, I founded a digital radio network called VENOM. When I first had the idea, I needed to fill several roles, not the least of which were a network administrator, program director, and marketing director. Three essential roles that equated to managing our servers, designing our content, and promoting that content. You might think that the titles sound formal, so I should have started to immediately collect some resumes. No. That's not what I did. Instead, I called my friends.
The first person I asked to find a network administrator was a friend I knew was very into technology and networking. I knew he had experience managing servers. Even if he didn't have specific expertise in the streaming field, I figured I'd pitch the idea to him and see if he or someone he knew might be interested. We sat down and had a conversation about the platform's vision and what I needed from him. I asked him a few of the questions I had about networking, and like magic, we were already talking through concepts and planning the next steps. At the beginning of this semi-formal relationship, we were distant friends. We grew much closer because of the project.
After I found a server guy, it was time to nail things down regarding the content. I knew a guy through a couple of other friends who was a great radio DJ with a massive understanding of music and the music industry. I reached out to him in much the same way as before, jumping into a few of the ideas I had. People love to talk about their craft, so naturally, we started bouncing ideas off of each other. And just like that, he was in.
Finally, I needed someone to handle marketing. Who better to turn to than my fiancé, Precious. You might have seen her mentioned here a few times. As a student of Berklee College of Music and an involved performer, who would know more about self-promotion than her? Since its inception, she had known about the project, so I invited her to meet with me and the other guys to get a feel for our working dynamic and what kind of content we wanted to produce. We all got on brilliantly, and the platform is still running strong today with a staff of over 12 people.
The trick here is to realize your friends' talents, and if they are interested, give them opportunities to grow and expand in their field. Our network administrator didn't have any experience with streaming. Still, he knew more about servers than anyone else I knew and was interested in learning. From there, a lot of people will jump at the chance to work on a project just because of the dynamic. If they get to learn something new and enjoy the atmosphere of a project, sometimes that's all you need. Just trust the process.
Doing business with friends can sometimes become complicated. Questions like how much should I pay them, am I taking too much of their time might bug you at night. But being open and direct about that stuff can always save you some time and headspace.
Yes, I am paying my friends for what they do for the project. But of course, I'm definitely not above paying friends for their time. Sometimes I'll pay them more because I like them! None the less that is all to be determined by the scope of the project and the extent of the friendship you have with the person. It's a matter of open communication and shared love for the art of creating.
Still, you think that you don't know enough people to support your professional goals? Then expand your circles. Networking doesn't have to be cold and direct, and you definitely do not have to attend some networking events to get to know more people. Do a quick search if there are any groups (online or real life) of people doing what you want to be doing and get in touch. Don't be afraid of talking to other people. They might inspire you about new projects or how to go about an obstacle you face.
As always, feel free to comment below or reach out to me if you have any questions. I'm always happy to expand on an idea or include yours in a future post.
Stay safe, and good luck with your next project!
If you like to read more about work and employment you can read my other article about when to mention your blindness during job hunting.
We’d love to have a conversation. If you are a part of the blind and visually impaired community, you’d like to be part of our mission, or share your ideas and collaborate with us, get in touch with us.
We are based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Fill out the form below to reach us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org