Have you ever gone somewhere and met someone that had such a positive influence on your life that you thought to yourself, “If I got nothing else out of coming to this, at least I met that person.”
Early in my photography career I went to a workshop taught by Ben Chrisman. Ben is a world-renowned genius in photography and I learned a lot from him but the biggest win for me was meeting my friends Haley & Michael Shandro who were hosting the workshop at their house. Ben taught me a lot about the art and technique of photography; Haley and Michael taught me about the business. And, up until that time I had totally ignored that part.
When it came to business I told myself I wasn’t good enough at it or that if I just took really good pictures the money would follow.
It’s a lie that most of us tell ourselves. Haley and Michael taught me the simple truth: You’ll get what you want if you make a plan to achieve it…and then work your butt off for it. Since then, being friends with them has led to me building two other businesses and Haley and Michael have been a wealth of advice and support.
The thing about friendships is they don’t just result in fun nights out to a great restaurant or backyard barbecues, they can also add up to cold hard cash. I know a lot of people will hate me for making that statement, but in certain circumstances it’s true.
That doesn’t mean that I condone intentionally meeting people under the guile of become friends just for your own financial gain. But what I want you to embrace is the utter fact that we, as a social species, look out for our friends. Moreover, some of those friends may be the type of people that can connect you with your prospective clients.
Presumably you’ve already met a few vendors through weddings that you’ve photographed but what if you’re still really new in your area? If you aren’t currently friends with any other wedding vendors I’d strongly suggest attending a networking event.
The best thing that happens to photographers who attend workshops and conferences like CPC is that they leave with new friendships and they go on helping each other even after the conference ends. You don’t have to wait until the next CPC to get started building your network though.
The more photographers you know, the more likely you’ll be referred.
Let’s say that your city has 200 wedding photographers (this number is conservative in most Canadian cities). Each of them is trying to fill their summer with enough weddings to sustain their livelihood. The average photographer can serve anywhere from 20-30 weddings in a season.
You might think that all the photographers are fighting over the same brides. False! Within Canada and much of the United States we’re limited to a wedding season that occurs from April until October.
There’s only a small a window of time to get all the bookings you need.
In 2016, for example, this time period consists of just 31 Saturdays in total. So, even if every client that came your way was looking for a different Saturday you’d be hard pressed to fill your entire calendar during that time frame without a referral strategy.
Doesn’t it seem like every year there’s a few weekends where every bride in the universe is getting married on the exact same day?
Weddingmeggadon this year falls on September 5th. What are you going to do when you’re already booked and that super amazing backyard wedding in cottage country emails you? Are you going to just decline and point them to google or are you going to point them to your friend’s websites in your reply?