As I write this second piece to the story of relocating my business, I’ve been in Michigan for about three months now. Part one covered some of the very basics of moving a photography business—some actions I began before packing the first box. Now, firmly on the ground in Michigan, I thought I’d share some notes about my latest activities.
Networking Networking Networking
Perhaps you’ve heard that the professional photographer spends at best 20% of his time actually clicking the shutter. The remaining 80% is spent running the business. It’s so true. For me, I’ve spent the vast majority of that 80% networking.
I don’t believe it’s possible to get a local business off the ground without local face to face networking events. In addition to going to organized meetings, you can also attend local community tradeshows (these events are all over the place around the holidays).
Networking is more than just passing out hundreds of cards and hoping someone calls you back. It’s about making new friends. It takes a followup meeting for that next key step.
Following each event, I make an effort to set up time to meet with select people individually. As a relative introvert, I find I connect with others more effectively on an individual basis. This allows me to better understand their business and position within the community. I ask about current business challenges, recent marketing campaigns or a big accomplishment. You’ll be surprised to see that despite being in completely different industries, small businesses have much in common.
I also find that after understanding another business, I’m in a much better position to articulate how I can add value (and it’s not always as a photographer). For example, over the years, I’ve developed a good command of basic website management. Not every small business owner is as savvy in dealing with their own website. My ability to offer just a couple tips can make a lasting impact.
You’ve probably heard that we tend to do business with people we know, like, and trust. Spend time building relationships in your community and the business will come.