Networking is KEY to growing your business!!!

This weeks blog post is aimed towards any entrepreneurs out there looking to gain some exposure for your business.  In my quest to tackle more marketing in the photography off-season, I’ve begun to wrap my head around one of the most impactful ways of getting your name out there.  If you’re not getting out there and talking to people face-to-face about your business, you’re not taking full advantage of your opportunities.  People do business with people.  Getting out there and talking to other people in your industry, and talking about how your business can help benefit them (and vice versa) is a fantastic way to create leads and get people talking about you and your business.  You would be surprised how many events there are that are put together solely for the purpose of networking.

Yesterday, I attended a local MeetUp  networking event for Wedding professionals.  This particular group is pretty new, and therefore pretty small, but I can already see some relationships building.  As the group grows, I plan to build more relationships that are beneficial to both myself and the people I meet.  The returns wont happen overnight.  Building solid relationships takes time and dedication.  It could be six months or longer before you really start to see any increase in business, but the relationships that you build along the way will be so crucial to your long term success.  The key is actually taking the initiative and putting yourself out there.  You have to be a people person.  If you’re the quiet type that tends to hug the wall at events, then you have to break out of that and walk up to people and meet them.  Show people that passion that made you start down the path of entrepreneurship.  Set goal for yourself to meet a certain number of people per event, or per month and every month, increase that goal.  Soon, you’ll have talked to hundreds of people in your area that didn’t know you existed and that kind of exposure can only help your business.

If you’re new to your industry, then you’ll need to do some digging to find out what networking events are out there.  There is a wealth of information out there to start you off.  Coming from a wedding/portrait photographers point of view, here are the places I look for leads on networking events:

  • MeetUp — search MeetUp.com for industry get-togethers
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Local business owner groups
  • Local artist groups
  • Local Professional Photographers of America (PPA) groups
  • Local SmugMug groups
  • Local Pug (Pictage user) groups
  • Event and bridal magazines — get on their lists for invitations to their events

Take these starting points and look for similar groups that apply to your market.  Next week I’ll get more into the nitty-gritty of just how to tackle networking events and how to cultivate the relationship seeds that you’ve planted.  For now, start putting together a list of networking events in your area and start wrapping your head around the idea that you’re going to have to get used to extending a friendly hand and saying the words “Hi, my name is…..”.  As always, thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me.  I’ll see ya next week!

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