In today’s technology driven society, we are glued to our devices. As you rush to meet with potential clients for a meeting, you strive to fit in as many texts in as possible before you need to shove your phone in your pocket and be personable for the next hour. Once you arrive at the meeting, you realize something – you are blanking on what to say, and without your email in front of you, you are drawing a blank on the names of the clients you’re meeting with. As a wedding photographer, the power of communication is a crucial and necessary tool you need to develop strong relationships with clients and vendors.
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success” – Paul J. Meyer
Here are six communication tips for better networking connections that will help you create lasting relationships with your clients and vendors.
1. Showcase Authenticity
When you are meeting with clients or vendors, one of the most important things you can do is to be yourself. Create a unique message that represents you and your brand, and let this shine through in every interaction you have with others! Say what you mean, not what you think clients want to hear – it is important to always be yourself. When communicating, be open and honest, ensuring that you are properly representing your brand at all times. As long as you are always being authentic, it is okay if you are not booking every client – remember, you want to focus on finding your ideal client each time!
2. Listen to Their Needs
Did you know that people only retain 20% of what they hear? When you actively listen to clients, you are showing interest in what they have to say, and you can remember details that could be useful later in the relationship. For example, if your couple mentions that they love a certain restaurant, send them a gift card for a night out on the town so they can enjoy a fun evening together before their big day. This small gesture will go a long way, and they will be flattered that you listened to the details they shared with you.
Related: Top Secrets to Better Networking
The same can be said for vendors who may mention that they do not have many photos of their business. To create close connections with them, take photos of their work and provide them with an album that showcases it! This benefits both you and the vendor, since your images will be available for potential clients to view.
3. Encourage Conversation
When you are meeting with new clients or vendors, the art of conversation can be challenging! Knowing what to say to keep the conversation alive does not always come easy, so work to develop an arsenal of strong open-ended questions that cannot be answered with yes or no! When you use open-ended questions, you encourage conversations that can help keep people talking. These types of questions also help to avoid awkward silences since the dialog can continue to evolve organically.
Business coach, Jeff Jochum, explains the importance of asking clients these types of questions in his book, Happily Ever After. He mentions “pulling threads,” which refers to asking the right questions that allow you to control the consultation and have a better chance to book clients. Try asking questions about how the couple met to start the relationship on a high note. Remembering to ask these types of questions can assist you in finding ideal clients that are perfect for your business.
4. Get and Use Names
When you meet clients and vendors for the first time, make a conscious effort to remember their names! While this is easier said than done, addressing people by their names can help to make all the difference in your wedding photography business! Learning your clients’ names, pronouncing them correctly, and using them frequently enforces trust and will continue to impact communication in a positive way.
Tip: When you meet someone new, use their name twice in quick succession: “Linda – it’s so great to meet you Linda!” This quick repetition of a name can help reinforce it in your mind and automatically establish trust in the relationship!
5. Develop an Attitude of Curiosity
In your photography business, you have an opportunity to meet a variety of individuals from different backgrounds, beliefs, and values. Take the time to learn about your clients, their opinions, and what they desire and need in life. Ask well-phrased questions that encourage your couples to open up to you and share information that goes deeper than their wedding day photography checklist. When you develop an attitude of curiosity, you will automatically begin the process of finding out what matters most to your clients. This can assist in turing their trust into loyalty for you, which places them on the path to becoming True Believers of you and your business.
Related: 4 Tips for Better Body Language
6. Stay in Touch
Once the wedding day is over, it does not mean that your relationship with the couple is done! In order to create loyal clients that continue to use you and send your referrals, it is crucial for you to stay in touch with them. Subtle gestures, such as sending an anniversary gift or card, will help to create a long-lasting relationship with them. They will appreciate the effort you made to reach out after their wedding and will be likely to refer you to friends and family.
Be sure to contact vendors on a regular basis, inviting them to events, coffee, or to lunch. These are important relationships to nurture, especially with vendors that share similar ideal clients as you! Constantly reach out and ask how you can help their businesses grow.
Communication is key when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships with vendors and clients. These tips can also be applied to maintaining healthy relationships with other companies that you work with, such as image hosting companies or photography post processing services! Continuously listen to what others are sharing with you and be authentic to your brand to help your photography business grow. Learn more tips and tricks to improve your business this year in our How to Grow Your Wedding Photography Business: 2015 Updated Edition!