Effectively building connections through networking is essential for the growth and success of your photography business.
The key to effective networking is to focus on building genuine connections and understanding the needs of potential clients. Here are some tips on how to talk to people, what questions to ask, and how listening is essential in creating a strong network for your business.
1. Be Genuinely Interested in People
This is vital! Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where someone asks you a question, only to have them gaze in every direction but yours, seemingly disinterested in your response? It happens surprisingly often unfortunately.
Don't be that person – when networking, show a genuine interest in the person you are talking to and listen to what they're saying. Ask about their background, interests, and experiences. This helps establish rapport and trust, which is the foundation of building a relationship with someone and getting them interested in your business.
2. Ask Open Ended Questions
To encourage meaningful conversations, ask open-ended questions that require more than a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. At the end of the day, people love to talk about themselves so give them the opportunity to do that. It's a great way to establish whether they fit with your ideal client avatar and whether it's worth progressing the relationship or not.
TOP TIP: A good opener after introductions may be to ask something like "I hope you don't mind me asking, I am curious and was wondering what brought you here today?"
The above question uses language softeners to make it sound less intrusive than saying something like "Why are you here"?
Src: How to Talk to Anybody by Derek Borthwick
3. Practice Active Listening
This goes hand in hand with #1. Pay close attention to what the other person is saying and respond thoughtfully. This shows that you value what they're saying and are genuinely interested in understanding their needs. Remember to maintain eye contact, nod, and use verbal cues. A. great technique of demonstrating active listening is to use the Echo & Comment tecnhique (Ref: How to Talk To Anybody, Derek Borthwick).
When it comes to building rapport, in his book, Derek says that "the most important words that a person hears are the ones they have just said" and this is where the "Echo" comes into play. You simply echo what they've just said as a confirmational question.
For example, if they say "I've come here to look for opportunities for my flower business", you can simply echo back "So you've come here to discover opportunities for your flower business?" They will generally reply with a "Yes" and a nod of the head. Both of these responses are associated with positivity which is also a good thing.
Then make a brief comment about what they've just said and ask another question. Let's continue on with the previous example where you could then say something like: "It's wonderful to meet someone who runs a flower business! It must take incredible creativity to create unique floral arrangements for all different occasions. How long have you been in business?"
This is a great technique for not only building rapport but for honing your own listening skills too.
4. Share Relevant Stories and Experiences
Share personal stories and experiences that relate to the person you're speaking with. This creates a deeper connection and greater rapport. You can also share stories about how you've worked with clients that are similar to them and the transformation you created for them. This will help them see how you can help them achieve what they desire by working with you.
5. Offer Solutions Based on their Needs
Once you understand a little bit about the person, you can start to talk about tailored solutions that would address what they’re looking for. Avoid pushing a one-size-fits-all approach, as this can come across as insincere or overly sales-driven.
6. Exchange Information To Follow Up and Maintain Connections
When you make a connection with someone you feel would be a good fit for your business, whether as a client or as potential vendor partner, make sure you exchange information so you can stay in touch. The Quantum Business Card is the ideal way to do this as it allows you to put your info onto their phone by simply tapping your card to it. It's easy, instant, and guarantees that they won't lose it - unlike a traditional business which card which 9 out of 10 people lose!
After your initial conversation, follow up with a personalised message to show that you value the connection. Stay in touch by periodically sharing updates or news but ensure it is relevant and authentic. Make an effort to attend other networking events where your contacts might also be present.
7. Be Helpful and Provide Value
Offer to help others in your network by sharing knowledge, referrals, or resources. By being helpful, you demonstrate your expertise and willingness to support others, which can lead to more business opportunities in the long run.
Practicing reciprocity by helping others and offering value can have far-reaching benefits for you as a business owner. It helps build strong relationships, enhances reputation, encourages customer loyalty, expands professional networks, fosters collaboration, and attracts top talent – all of which contribute to business growth and success.
8. Collaborate with Complementary Businesses
Partner with other businesses that complement your portrait photography services, such as hair stylists, makeup artists, boutiques, interior designers and event planners. This not only expands your network but also provides additional opportunities for cross-promotion and collaboration.
Effective networking for your portrait photography business requires genuine connections, active listening, and understanding the needs of both potential clients and other like minded business people who you may offer partnership potential. By focusing on these principles, you can establish a strong network that will help you grow and succeed with your portrait photography business.