Last week we got a call from a client we hadn’t worked with in several years. The last film we created for him – an internal communications film – was very successful and enthusiastically received. He explained his current needs this way: “We haven’t been using you for smaller films where we feel we don’t need to hire top-tier talent. It’s just not worth it. This film is really important, so I’m calling you guys.” We were flattered, but his comment got me thinking about the nature of human connection and how, especially in the business world, it is so often misunderstood.
We consider the use of film as an opportunity to make deep and powerful connections with others. Those who are most successful at the art of human connection don’t make a distinction between “important” and “insignificant” connections. Every connection is important. Therefore the quality of every connection counts. This point is well articulated by a master connector Adam Rifkin – a serial entrepreneur named by Forbes magazine as “best networker on LinkedIn.” This guy really gets the art (and importance) of human connections. Rifkin writes often about ‘power networking’, which is no different from what our clients are trying to do with their films – trying to connect to and mobilize their tribes (employees, investors, external stakeholders etc.)
First, he talks about the importance of authenticity. “The main way to deepen a connection is through genuine interactions,” says Rifkin, “…that share knowledge and stories and emotions.” Yup. That’s in our playbook. He also talks about the importance of connection maintenance. It’s not enough to simply make that connection when you need something or when a crisis occurs. He writes, “Some connections can be new… Some connections should be re-connections with ‘dormant ties’ that deepen a connection already made.” We often tell clients that they underestimate the power and usefulness of film to do important connection work that might incur costs in the short run, but is a long-term money saver and valuable investment.
Finally, Rifkin distills his advice into 3 “rules of thumb”.
1. Every day improve the quality of 1-3 of your best connections. Every single day.
2. What you get out of your network depends on what you put into your network. Therefore, invest … generously.
3. We become more like the people with whom we spend time. Choose wisely.
I urge CEOs, HR managers, every head of Corporate Communications who considers using film to further a strategic purpose to:
a) consider every single one of your films (both in content and quality) an opportunity to make important human connections with your tribes and therefore
b) to invest in the quality of this connection and finally,
c) be careful about labeling some films “unimportant” and hiring people who share that view.
Instead, spend time with experienced filmmakers who care deeply about the craft and create works of intelligence and artistry. Your connections will deepen as a result. After all, the caliber of people we work with every day infects our culture.
In short, if you consider some film projects more important than others, what you are unwittingly saying is that some connections are more important than others. This is a potentially dangerous notion in today’s socially viral universe, where every single connection has an ability to become unexpectedly powerful.