Networking with vendors and clients is one of the best ways for you to grow your business. Done correctly, and it can exponentially increase the numbers of clients you book for your photography business each year! We’ve given you tips to connect with vendors, as well as ways to win with client referrals. Whether it is busy season or the offseason, it is important for you to know how to create strong networking relationships. We connected with a few industry leader photographers and gained some insights on their top secrets to better networking that helps them grow their businesses!
With the ease of doing everything online today, it is easy to revert to social media to do all of your networking. While social media is great for brand awareness and reaching out to vendors and clients that are not in your area, take a step away from the computer and venture out into your community to network! Take advantage of meet-ups with local photographers and vendors in your area to meet with new people and create a personal connection. Vendors will remember you more through a connection in person rather than a virtual “hello” shared over Facebook.
Pittsburgh wedding photographer, Leeann Marie, finds that many vendors are more willing (and excited!) to work with her when they have the opportunity to meet in person:
“Get out of the house! Go and meet new people in person. You must step outside any fear you may have, and meet with people face-to-face. And often!”
Create meaningful relationships
As you find vendors that have the same target market as you , it is important to spend time nurturing those relationships. Constantly ask yourself what you and your photography business can do to help them in order to keep the relationship strong!
Rather than focusing on vendors that do not have similar interests and clients, photographer Sara France ensures that each vendor she chooses to focus on has similar values:
“Invest in other Vendors whose work you are absolutely overwhelmed with. That 1 genuine relationship means more that 10 relationships that are mediocre.”
Provide vendors with images
As a professional photographer, you hold something that is so valuable to many vendors – images! Not only is sharing images a great way to nurture and delight vendors that you have a close relationship with, but it is also a wonderful way to gain exposure with new vendors. If you are working with new vendors, it can sometimes be intimidating to start a conversation with them. Use this opportunity to introduce yourself and let them know that you would love to share images with them so they have beautiful images of their work!
Jeff and Erin Youngren share this tip:
“We realize that vendors already have a list of go-to photographers, so if we want to begin working with a certain vendor, we let them know that if their go-to photographers are ever unavailable, don’t hesitate to call us in a pinch and we’ll jump at the chance to fill-in.”
When you book clients for their wedding day, you are taking part in one of the most important days of their lives. One of the reasons they booked you is because of the connection you created with them, so be sure to be yourself on the wedding day! Chances are that other vendors created personal connections with the couple as well, so take the opportunity to get to know them.
Sarah Lehberger sticks true to her passions and beliefs to create lasting relationships:
“Connect with vendors and other small businesses that have similar passions, clientele, and beliefs as you do. They are looking to build authentic relationships just as much as you are, and sometimes all it takes is showing up and being yourself.”
Try a genuine approach
When you reach out to new vendors, it is ideal for you to approach each meeting with the best intentions. Understand that every meeting may not immediately reap benefits for your business, and this is okay! As the relationship progresses, you will form stronger connections with each vendor because you genuinely took the time to get to know them not only on a business level, but a personal level too.
Establishing trust in each relationship that Ning Wong creates is essential for him and his photography business. He genuinely greets new vendors as if they are old friends and continuously asks what he can do to help other businesses grow.
“Be nice and genuine to everyone you meet. Do great things out of the goodness of your heart.”
Connect outside of business hours
Whenever possible, find ways to get out of your workspace when meeting with vendors! You are in there all day working on blogging, wedding photo editing, and marketing, so mix up the location when it comes to networking with vendors. Have a favorite lunch spot? Invite vendors to join you there for an afternoon outing!
When meeting with vendors in person, do not always limit yourself to something that takes place during business hours, such as coffee or lunch. Wedding photographer Jason Grubb loves taking them to happy hour! This is a relaxing environment that allows everyone to feel comfortable, helps you create lasting relationships, and it’s a great place to invite several vendors to at once!
“Happy Hour!! The best thing to invite vendors to.”
Each photographer has implemented these networking tips into their own businesses to see an increase in not only in vendor referrals, but lasting friendships with vendors as well! To learn how you can network with vendors and clients to grow your business this year, download our Guide to Marketing for Wedding Photographers!