(c) This week guest blogger David Coblitz continues his series on Networking for photographers on PhotoBizCoach.com
My first blog of this series on networking for photographers described why you should consider business networking to develop your business, and provided some initial thoughts on how to go about it. This month, I’ll discuss with whom to network.
There are two basic approaches to networking. I recommend you do some of each of them. Begin with emphasis on the first & transition to emphasis on the second. These are (1) networking broadly and (2) networking narrowly, but deeply.
When starting out, I networked broadly. I went to many networking meetings of various types and organizations and met many people. (Chamber of Commerce, BNI, Yellow Tie, meet-up groups, professional organizations). Why did I do that? Certainly to meet people who might be able to help my business develop, but more importantly, to develop relationships that became my own personal network of people I could help & who could help my target referral partners. These became people with whom I had developed mutual visibility, credibility, and trust.
A wide array of connections with people in all types of professions comes in handy when you want to do the second type of networking, which is developing very targeted, very deep relationships with a limited number of very specific types of people/professions. I call this “networking deep” or developing true “referral partners”.
To understand networking deep, you first need to think hard on what your niche is. Your niche is your specialty where you are (or plan to become) the best at what you do. This should be what you’re both passionate about/enjoy and what you’re good at.
Then think about who is your ideal customer type, and who is your ideal customer source for that niche (your golden goose, who can produce customers for you on a continuing basis). These are your tribe. They are people that you can naturally help by applying your specialty, and who can naturally either be your ideal customer, or better, refer you to your ideal customers. Your golden geese can be discovered by asking yourself, “Who sees my ideal customer type before I do?” If you’re a sports photographer, it’s the coach or head of the parent support group. If you’re a wedding photographer, it’s the jeweler, pastor, caterer, florist, etc. If you’re in fine art or commercial photography, it’s the interior decorator or architect.
Won’t targeting my customer types very narrowly reduce to a very few my number of business opportunities? Not so. Instead, what will happen is you will develop a tribe of people who know what you do & how well you do it. They will have much in common with each other & hence talk among themselves about you & your work. They become your fan base. If what they have to say about you is that they know, like, and trust you, and that you’re very helpful to them & they admire your work, that’s going to be very good for developing your business.
So your homework for this month is to really determine & narrow your niche, then define your tribe.
Nice article Dave. As a person in your wide network and an admirer of your photography skills, I now see your underlying networking strategies. I think the givers gain philosophy is demonstrated by your candid expose’.
I enjoy reading through a post that can make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!
Thank you, I will be networking soon and I appreciate your article.
Key advice, ““Who sees my ideal customer type before I do?” “
David, thanks for your thoughts, and contributions to Beate’s PhotoBiz Coach site. One experience of mine, and that I see others do also, is not networking where the clients are, rather talking with like-minded folks. We have to get out of our comfort zones.
Ed, good comment. Thanks. Also consider networking where your ideal referral partners are ( who can send you a streem of clients & vice versa.). It’s not just about networking with potential customers per se.