It seems that we (those of us that have chosen sex work as our vocation) seem to be finding that engendering the response that we are looking for has been challenging at times when it comes to obtaining references for new clients. In fact, I’ve read more than one tweet that suggests some prospective clients simply won’t give any kind of references.
I think when we ask for references our clients shut down often. They don't want to give them to us. And yet in order to help keep us and our prospective clients safe we are required to do some sort of due diligence, right? So here we are caught in this limbo or this rock and a hard place. How do we develop a relationship and ask for references and be met favorably? The rising need for references is still there but the reluctance to provide them seems to be getting stronger within the adventuresome hobbyist community. The way I see it we need to begin to discuss the idea of Social Capital with our current and prospective clients. Fundamentally, social capital is about how we interact with each other; how we focus on social relationships that can then produce productive benefits. It’s about how we engender goodwill toward one another. Information, influence and solidarity that can be made available from one person to another and how those resources are valued by individuals. When we discuss social capital with our clients we're actually engaging our clients to be present with us during the due diligence process. Instead of suggesting that providing a reference is totally and completely up to the client which can keep the process somehow separate from us we can instead include ourselves in building social capital that then influences our sometimes fragile, burgeoning relationship. Building social capital is a way to bring interconnectedness into the reference process - an invitation is offered instead of giving a command.
My website is my way of extending the hand of social capital. Asking for references is my way of asking you as a prospective client to offer substantive interaction with me during the process of due diligence. Each day we build social capital with one another - that subcontractor that you’re working with, the barista you see each day for your morning coffee, having conversation with the person in the cubicle next door to you - all of these interactions builds social capital. Once you’ve established that cursory relationship it becomes natural to have conversation about what you want, what you need from them, and finding ways to move forward. Neither person is on the outside of that process. In the world of providing and SWs we do that too, we just do it a bit more quickly and with an eye toward a more intimate encounter with one another.
Building social capital with any sex worker will allow the client the opportunity to get to know them. The way I see it, that language - Social Capital - is much less charged than demanding references. It gives us a place to take the conversation in a gentle way that can garner the results we’re looking for. Because of my website or my ads clients can see that I’ve extended the hand of Social Capital. They know a little bit about me based on my website or based on a conversation with me. At that point it sort of just naturally follows that I would need to know a little bit about them. It is in that way that they will know that when they divulge something about themselves such as references they are building social capital with us. We want to hear a little bit about you not because we want to be intrusive but because we are looking to build Social Capital with you so that we can engage with you safely and intimately and have a deep wonderful connection together.