In business networking, don’t try to be all things to all people, or you’ll be nothing to no one.  As a hot shot photographer, you can probably do any kind of shooting you want to.  You can narrow that down some by leaving out things you don’t enjoy or that don’t pay for your time.  Now you’re still left with a bunch of things you could do.  You will just confuse your networking partners if you try to talk about all you can do and want to do (just so they know to keep you in mind for anything photographic).  This is a big mistake.  Don’t do it.  I know.  I learned it the hard way.

I’ve always been willing to leap into the fray confident I could figure out how to make just about any situation work out, so I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of trying new things.  When I first started out (admittedly after a long, successful career in another business), I was happy to try anything once, just for the experience & to feel like I had that type of photography under my belt.  By talking at each networking meeting about a different type of work, all I succeeded in doing was confusing my networking partners, who hadn’t heard the repetition of one thing long enough to really feel like they knew how to describe me to others.

I also found I didn’t have time to do everything on my plate.  I needed to really narrow my marketing efforts to focus them, and to enable me to do enough in one area to have some success in that area.  After talking it over with a business consultant, I decided to stop marketing head shots (among other things), and since I no longer cared whether or not I got that type of work, I doubled my price figuring that at least if I did, I would get paid well for it.

In the succeeding period, a funny thing happened.  The number of head shots I was asked to do doubled.  I’m still trying to get over how that worked, but perhaps the higher price point made me more credible & the fact that I wasn’t trying to get it meant I didn’t come across as desperate.  I suspect the fact that there were types of work I turned down (weddings) and types of work I didn’t market (e.g. head shots for one), made people think I must be successful, since I turn some types of work away.

But the real benefit was that I could concentrate my marketing time, efforts, thought, money, etc to make it more effective.   Hence, I started narrowing where I would network to concentrate on areas where my prime customers were (Interior designers & architects).  I came up with a tag line to help people remember who I was looking for and what I could do for them.  (“I help interior designers take your walls from bland to grand”).  Then I repeated this over and over at each meeting till my partners got the message and could remember it.  You can bet that if they knew an interior designer, they knew I could help them & wanted to meet them to do so.

When I would have my 30 seconds at a networking meeting, I would use it to give an example (by name) of an interior designer I had worked with recently and what I did for them.  (One of my best customers recently was…… for whom I did…..).  If they’re looking to meet this particular person, then they know I have a relationship with them.  If not, it still works as a generic example that is different each week, but sends the same message each week.

So my advice to you is to figure out what you really, really want to do, and who is your ideal customer type.  Then consistently tell everyone those two things.  Results will come.

Happy networking,

David Coblitz – The St. Louis Artographer – “Helping interior designers take your walls from bland to grand.”

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