How To Network and Boost Your Contact Lists
Struggling to figure out how to network more effectively? In this article I go over 15 actionable networking tools that you can use to kick start your business and boost your contact lists.
1. Kick Fear To The Curb By Focusing On Positive Outcomes
For many the thought of networking sends chills down their spines.
You mean I ACTUALLY have to talk to people?
I used to feel absolutely terrified to strike up conversations with random people and introduce myself. Trust me when I say each conversation you have will get a little bit easier.
Try to think of networking opportunities as an exciting step in your photography business. Think of each conversation as a potential lead to an amazing new client. Think of each networking event as a chance to connect with people and learn more about how they run their business.
The more you think of the exciting opportunities networking can provide, the less overwhelming it feels.
By focusing on the positive outcomes, you can effectively kick your fear of networking to the curb.
2. View People As People, Not Their Positions
When you’re networking it’s easy to get intimidated by big time ad agencies or a well known business person. Just remember, you’re intimidated by their position, not them as a person.
If you walked into the room with the CEO’S of Amazon, Google, and Apple; it’s a safe assumption to say you’d feel intimidated. These people run some of the biggest companies in the world.
Now what if you had no idea who they were? You couldn’t tell them apart from a random person on the street?
Suddenly they become regular people; they aren’t so intimidating.
Now this is a bit of an over exaggeration but the point remains: you are intimidated by positions, not people.
By changing your outlook on this it will become far less overwhelming to strike up a conversation with a potential new client.
3. Be Personable
Nobody likes a talking to a robot. When you are networking for photography you are representing so much more than just your photos. You are face and spirit of your company; if you sound like a generic robot, your photography business will likely appear the same way.
That’s why it’s extremely important to be personable while networking. Be yourself and have a real human conversation.
We’ve all heard too many boring business chats. Take the conversation beyond just business and allow people to learn about you beyond your photos.
Share a story about a great experience you had during a shoot, share something that was challenging but you overcame, share about how you got started or a recent accomplishment you’re proud of.
This will help you to stick out better among a sea of conversations that were all strictly business and numbers.
4. Give Before You Receive
The best way to build a working relationship is with some give and take.
You can’t expect people to give you what you want without any effort from your end. If both parties are being benefitted, the relationship can flourish.
So why not make the first move? Learn about peoples business and what they do. Figure a way that your photography can benefit them and take action.
For example, you could offer a small free shoot to show how great your services are. Prove that there’s nobody else they would want to work with in the future.
By making that first move it shows your desire to work with them. Your gestures will be appreciated and likely reciprocated.
5. Remember And Repeat People’s Names
People will always listen best when you use their name. This little trick is a great way to capture peoples attentions and make them feel like you’re more involved in the conversation.
I always appreciate when people remember my name after one introduction, your potential clients will feel the same way.
This is an easy networking trick for you to stick in peoples minds and hold their focus in a conversation.
6. Be An Active Listener
Active listening is when you are fully concentrated on a conversation; so you can formulate more thoughtful responses or questions as it progresses.
This is a vital networking tool to gain the most out of conversations. You are able to better able to understand and respond in ways to progress the conversation. Nobody likes surface level chat that goes in circles anyways.
“Ya the weather sucks. But it was so much nicer this time last year. It’s looking better next week though.”
Active listening makes conversations more enjoyable. At networking events an enjoyable and memorable chat goes a long ways. By being an active listener you are ensuring to stick out from the crowd.
7. Go To Networking Events With A Plan Of Attack
If you want to be successful with your networking you need a plan. Before you head into the arena (aka the networking event) you need a measurable goal to know whether you come out successful.
Here are a few goals you could have going into a networking event as a photographer:
- Introduce yourself X amount of people.
- Hand out X amount of business cards
- Learn one bit of personal info about each person you speak with
Having a measurable goal will help motivate you to have more conversations and leave you feeling like it was worth your while.
8. Be Able To Summarize Your Business In A Few Sentences
If you are totally new to networking for photography you should really focus on this one.
If someone asks you about your business you want to give a short, clear, and captivating answer. A few sentences that make people feel interested in what you do and feel like they need to learn more.
If someone wants to learn more about you, they are more likely to remember you.
For example the way I summarize my photography business is something like this:
” I specialize in outdoor lifestyle and travel photography shooting for brands and travel bloggers. Through that, my work has taken be around the world shooting for a variety of tourism boards, hotels, and travel agencies. “
Short and sweet.
I explain the niche I’m in, who or what I shoot for, and a humble brag to show I’m not just any photographer you might already know.
When trying to summarize your photography business make sure to focus on the Who, Where, and Why whenever possible.
9. Carry Business Cards
Leaving a conversation with a potential new client without offering a business card is a big fat fail. If you want any hopes at having someone contact you then you better have a card.
Your business card should be reflect your aesthetic and business. Something that shows people you’re exactly as awesome as you’ve been telling them.
Equally as important as giving business cards, is to receive them. Ask people for their cards for a direct line of contact with them after your conversation. Touch base with them and follow up on anything worthwhile from your conversations.
10. Follow Up Within 48 Hours
Don’t wait a whole week to follow up with someone you had a great conversation with. The longer you wait the more you are forgotten.
Shoot potential new clients you chatted with an email within 48 hours of receiving their card. Make sure to touch on things you might have talked about to spark their memory. Any notable aspects of the conversation, be sure to remind them.
When you follow up with someone, ensure you express your appreciation for their time; and your enjoyment for the conversation. The more genuine you can be, the better the follow up will be received.
11. Find Relative Events In Your Niche
No matter what kind of photography you do, there is always an event for you. Networking events don’t need to have a giant sign reading:
NETWORKING EVENT, COME AND TALK TO PEOPLE
In order to convince you it’s worthwhile.
Worthwhile networking opportunities will be found where your potential clients are hanging out. A simple google of “best _________(your niche) trade shows” will get you on the right track to finding an event to attend.
The ideal event will have people that would be interested in your services, related to their business in your niche.
The bigger trade shows and expos are often all over the country. If you’d prefer to stay local, then keep an eye out for farmer markets, craft fairs, food events, or fashion shows; if you live in a more populated city.
Whether you are travelling to networking events or staying local, the goal remains the same. Introduce yourself and get your work in front of new eyes and potential future clients.
12. Stay In Touch
After you’ve gone through the work of meeting great people and following up on a few potential leads, your work is not over! Staying in touch is always a crucial, yet often overlooked, networking tool.
So the question becomes: how often should I stay in touch?
Sending out a Happy Holidays email to everyone once a year isn’t quite enough. You’ll need to do something more personalized. Keep tabs on what things they have been doing in their business, see what kind of great new things they’ve been accomplishing.
Every couple months touch base and comment on some of the work they’ve been doing. Congratulate them on any great successes or anything new and exciting in their lives.
This shows you are actively involved in what they are doing and you have an interest. It will end up showing you in a better light and keep you in the forefront of peoples minds.
Ultimately, you don’t want to be forgotten because you never stayed in touch after your first follow up emails.
13. Be Generous
Generosity goes a long ways in any business. Whether in an initial conversation or after someone hires you for a job, always look for ways to extend your generosity.
If you start a relationship with an ‘it’s all about me’ attitude, you’re destined for failure. Keep in mind that networking and maintaining relationships is all about people helping one another.
Go the extra mile for your clients and new contacts to make them feel more valuable to you.
There’s a good chance people will be more than willing to exchange the favour.
14. Have A Great Online And Social Media Presence
If people can’t easily find you online, you pretty much don’t exist.
Sorry, was that too blunt?
Building out your presence across varying social media platforms is imperative; if you want people to find you and your work. Social media is a networking tool for people to quickly browse your work while getting a feel for who you are.
As photographers, a few great social media platforms to build on are:
- Youtube(if you make vlogs or tutorials)
You don’t need to have thousands of followers on every page for each to be worthwhile. You just need a few mainstream hubs that have a collection of your work. The more places you can be found, the easier clients will be able to find you.
15. Have A Kick Butt Portfolio
Last but not least, portfolios. Your portfolio represents everything you can do for a client. It’s home to all your best images and should make people stop and stare in wonder.
“I can’t believe you took something like that!”
If you already have a portfolio, great. Make sure to keep it updated as you take newer and better images.
If you don’t already have a portfolio, make one. Make a website for yourself and upload your best images from recent years to it.
Remember, it’s all about quality; not quantity.
If you want to see an example, you can view my portfolio here.
So those were 15 how to network tools for photographers that are guaranteed to help build your business and reputation.
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Now I want to hear from you:
What’s holding you back from making those connections you’ve always dreamed of?
Let me know down in the comments below!