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Photographer Professional Network: Why you need it and how to find it!

Photographers Need a Professional Network

Photographers need a professional network.  Regardless of what niche of photography you are in, you need a network of professionals, who are NOT photographers.  GASP… you mean people who don’t understand what an F-Stop and a Shutter Speed are?  But they just don’t GET the business!  Yes, we get it, they don’t understand photography which is good for you and that is WHY you need them! In today’s blog post we will talk about what a professional network looks life for photographers specifically, how to build one and what to do with your photographer professional network once you have it!

Professionals in other areas of business, WILL become your largest source of referrals and new clients!  Think of it this way… most photographers, even specialized ones, can handle photographing many different sources from headshots to senior photos, weddings to architecture.  When it comes to marketing and paying the bills, you just need to shoot it!

A Photography Professional Network will benefit your business.

A professional network can not only benefit you by sending referrals but you can learn from other business owners and gauge the populous in your area.  As photographers, we spend a LOT of time working on our businesses and our craft.  Often we overlook one of the easiest tools for marketing your business, word of mouth.  We spend hours designing ads and flyers, social media postings and email marketing but when it comes to gaining new business, the best source is still from word of mouth.

Did you know that the rules of marketing say that you must come into contact with a business name 3 times before you will look at it and 7 times before you will interact or purchase from it?  That is a LOT of times!  Now, imagine a bride goes into a consultation with a florist, a cake artist, a venue and a wedding planner and hears your name each and every time?  It very likely doesn’t matter how amazing your business card is… your name and the strong recommendation of your peers is what is most important!

So, in thinking about building this kind of professional network for yourself, you need to think in terms of circles.  What circles do you exist in as a person?  What circles are your “life”? What circles do you need to be a part of in order to grow your business in the direction it should grow?

Here are some great suggestions for a few popular photography niches and who they might need to include in their professional circles:

Photographer Professional Network: Weddings

WHO is your network?

Wedding Planners, venues & bridal dress shops were always at the top of my list as a wedding photographer.  Because most of the time the after a woman is engaged she will go buy her dress quickly and book the venue / planner. They 3rd to 4th level of importance was usually photography.  So while it is great to have florists, DJ’s, cake artists, caterers etc. in your network, the main sources of referral came from the first three listed.  Additional people to count in your circle, limo companies, stationary artists, and any other pros who work in the wedding industry.

WHERE to find this network?

We found, that especially early on in our career, attending local bridal shows and events was a MUST!  Even if we did not get a tons of brides booking us from the show themselves, we did manage to use that time to socialize with other vendors who were like minded.  These people became not only our co-workers but our friends and remain that way to this day.  In our area, we were known as the “give the shirt off your back” type people in our circle and that gained us a lot of respect, trust and referrals!

HOW to build this network?

Use the golden rule.  Just be a good person.  Send referrals to these people and they will send them back.  Establish a group of people who all refer to each other and keep it all in the family.  Make friends with trusted vendors who already have long standing relationships in the community.  They will accept you into their fold.  Do stuff for free for the vendors and you will always be on the tip of their tongue! I cannot tell you how many FREE family, headshots, baby etc. sessions that we gave away to vendor friends.  It’s not always about making a quick buck off the vendors!

Photographer Professional Network: Family/Baby/Senior

WHO is your network?

That is pretty easy… EVERYONE!  Literally ANY person on earth, with a family, can become your network!  Never let your guard down.  When I was starting out, I made friend with my OBGYN.  For many years he had MY photos hanging on his wall and would send out a FREE baby session to his patients, from our studio, to his patients, as his “welcome gift”.  Churches, schools, events, you name it.  The world is your oyster when it comes to families!

WHERE to find this network?

You can find this type network by first digging into your own personal friend circles.  What types of groups are you a member of?  Do you have a moms group or a church circle?  Are you a member of a Sorority or Fraternity?  Watch for activities in your community and be a part of that community.  Even when you are out and about, just for fun, people will be drawn to your work when it stands out.  Arm your friends and family as your brand ambassadors and make sure that never a photo is found from another studio on their social media pages.  People will begin to trust your brand when they see the name over and over.

HOW to build this network?

Think outside the box.  Brand ambassador programs have existed forever essentially and while there is no need to reinvent the wheel, if you make it shiny and new it will draw more attention.  When building your family/ baby network always be looking for an opportunity and offer your services regularly to anyone who holds the key to large amounts of clients!  In my world, I would NEVER dream of charging the PTA President of a high end school, full price for her session.  She holds the key to potentially an entire school contract as well as a school’s worth of families!

When looking to grow your network, realize that potential is all around you.  All you have to do is look and ask.  Make friends and keep them.  Don’t burn bridges unless you must and constantly be looking for ways to bring someone into your photography professional circle!   These people can help you grow your business in more ways than you will ever understand.

4 Types of Photographer Networks and Why you need them!

Photographer Protective Networkp- Why you need one and how to build it!

Photographer Social Network – Why you need one and how to find it!

The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!
The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!