When you are running your own business you can often find yourself being quite isolated from the outside world (especially if you spend the majority of your time in a windowless studio!). One of the ways I ensure I ‘get out there’ and speak to other people is through networking. The added benefit of this is that I get to meet lots of people in the local business community and help promote my business and services.
Some people are dubious about whether networking is beneficial, at one meeting an attendee explained their negativity by saying “you don’t think anyone comes to these things actually looking to spend money do you? Everyone is just looking to push their business”. My thoughts on this are that although that might be the short term aim, the longer term goal of many attendees (myself included) is to build relationships and to build brand awareness.
Many business services (and especially photography) are time sensitive and although the people you meet at a meeting may not have a specific need at that time but when they do they are more likely to contact you if they have met you (as long as you have left a good impression!) than another provider that they may find through searching the internet. Even if they are in a business that is never going to use your services they may be approached by someone else that does and they’ll be able (and hopefully willing) to pass on your details.
Another great benefit is that you can use the meetings to soundboard new ideas or services and get direct feedback from the kind of people you want to target. I’ve built a number of lasting relationships with local businesses, made some great connections and got a significant amount of repeat business through those relationships.
Here are a few of the networking events and organisations that I have found particularly useful over the last year, some formal, some informal and all in different locations:
As well as attending for networking purposes I have also been commissioned by a few of the networking organisations to provide some photography services to capture some of the networking events, here are some examples of some event photography I have provided at these Cheshire networking events: