When you are a business owner, it is critical for you to get out in your community and network with other business owners and potential clients. When I first started my photography business in 2009, I thought I could just post a photo on my Facebook business page and watch the customers roll in. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple. I won’t beat around the bush… Getting steady customers is hard work. In this blog post, I have listed the top five ways I have learned to network in my own community, and online in order to grow my business, my following and my client base. Some of these are specific to photographers, but could be tweaked to apply to any business! So let’s get to it!

Join Facebook Groups

This is an easy one. When I searched for “Lansing Photographers,” I found out that there was a group of photographers right in my area who have regular meetings and discussions, refer each other to clients, answer business questions, and encourage each other to continue improving their businesses. I was amazed! I requested to join the group and quickly typed in “Michigan Photographers” and whaddya know… Several other groups showed up! Several years later, I am involved in many great groups on Facebook and the members therein have helped me grow my business and improve my photography in a way that would not have been possible pre-internet! Don’t take Facebook for granted. It still has huge potential!

Find Industry Related Events and Attend Them

I am a photographer. So for this one, I googled “Lansing Photography Events.” I found several events in the near future in my area and attended some of them. There are so many good connections to be made at events like this. Show up with a smile on your face and business cards in your pocket, ready to meet new people!

Do Some Free Work

I know, I know… In the photography community, the words “Free work” are highly frowned upon. But if you are just starting your business, I think offering some free work is a great idea, as long as the client you offer your free work to understands that you are just starting out. Managing client expectations is extremely important, but if done right, you can make clients for life by offering free work!

Hang Your Photos in Local Businesses

Many businesses enjoy displaying artwork on their walls, especially if the artwork came from someone local. Make a few framed prints and take them to local businesses that are high traffic areas. You are bound to get some exposure by trying this method out!

Get Out and Talk to People

Are you shaking in fear yet? I know. I was too. In fact, I still am at times. Meeting new people can be difficult for me, even though I consider myself an extrovert. Sometimes when I meet people, I feel like I turn into an awkward turtle and just want to hide in my shell. But guess what? Once you get out there and start conversations with new people, these feelings of fear will go away and you will be well on your way to making the connections you need to successfully run your business! 

What do you think of these options for networking? Have you tried any alternative methods that have helped grow your business? I would love to hear about it in the comments below. 

Until next time…. Stay Awesome.