Wasn't under a non-compete at my old job. If a client from my old job offers me freelance work for a job that my old employer used to handle on a yearly basis, should I take it? Would you guys take it?
Well, you'll never get another freelance gig from that old job, that's for sure.
I will get jobs through another production house from time to time due to overflow or for whatever reason that first production company can't do the work at that time. If the client calls me directly for a different job, I let them know that I have to contact the original production company first to get their clearance to do the additional work.
That's how I work. Yes it does cost me some lost jobs from time to time, but I prefer to work that way instead of making it appear that I'm stealing clients directly from other production houses.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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I agree with Walter. Your reputation is the most important thing you have in business -- and you must treat it with care, because it's very fragile.
Production communities are small and tight, and word will get around if you don't go out of your way to conduct yourself with honesty, integrity, and openness. As a freelancer, peer referrals are very important. Who would want to refer work to you if you have a reputation for stealing clients?
On the subject of referrals and etiquette, when someone does make a referral, they stake their own reputations on it. When someone refers work to you, send them a thank-you note (whether you can accept the project or not). Refer work to other freelancers that you trust (and whose work you respect) when you are too busy to take it on yourself.
Back to your specific case, who your prospect works with is up to them. They may not want to work with your former employer anymore, but having open discussions with the prospect and with your former employer about the situation -- and possibly even turning down the work if necessary -- will help earn you a stand-up reputation.
Another option may be to partner with your former employer on projects like these (assuming that you have complementary skill sets).
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Aaron, if this is related to your earlier thread, you've kind of backed into this situation by accident. The former employer let you go, now one of their old accounts, the car dealership, likes you and wants you to work with them directly. Being laid off by your employer kind of ends the informal non-compete you would have had, but it is still nevertheless good form as a professional courtesy to inform them first, and maybe offer them the chance to take you back. Be the bigger man on this. As Walter says, it's actually a very small business , smaller now, thanks to the internet, and your rep, good or not, follows you around. Lay a solid foundation as a "stand-up guy", and it will see you thru some future bad times in good stead. That rep is not something you can buy; it's earned, one transaction at a time, over a long time, and can be lost in just one of those transactions, perhaps for all time.
I agree with Walter, Walter & Mark. As the owner of a small production company I would appreciate a "heads up" from a former staff employee in a situation like that. I might not like it, but at least I wouldn't feel blind sided. If anything, it might make me reflect on why I lost the client's confidence and perhaps the wisdom of letting the staffer go.
The lack of a heads-up probably wouldn't prompt any public anger on my part, but I'd be unlikely to trust that person in the future.
And word would most certainly make it's way into the tight knit production community that you poached your former employer's client. Like most rumors, once they start can take on a life of their own and reflect (perhaps unfairly) poorly on you.
I'd give the old boss a call and let him know that one of his former clients has contacted you. Give him a chance to be a stand-up guy and your reputation will soar.
Just my 2 cents...
Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!
What a weird business this is. Could you imagine restaurants operating like that?
Last night I ate at the Mexican restaurant. Today the Chinese restaurant called the Mexican restaurant with a heads up they don't serve poached salmon.
Ha. Very funny. Yes it is a weird industry. Also it's worth mebtioning that although small production companies (essentially one man bands) are amicable and work together sometimes, they wouldn't dream of giving each other the heads up that they have taken on another's client - at least thats the way it is in this neck of the woods.
I think your case is different and you've been given some excellent advice in this thread. Good kick.