I just closed my eyes for a second and it is Friday again. The long Easter weekend totally got me out of my rhythm. So it is Friday and this means it is a new time to sit down with a nice glass of wine and write a new part of our marketing napkin. So it is lovely outside and I am so ready for the weekend so let’s sit down in the sun and have a nice glass of Grauer Burgunder. Just what we need to enjoy the first rays of spring outside on a terrace.
Why I am writing about wine you might think. If you want to know why it is called the marketing napkin and why we order a glass of wine to get a napkin head over to this post: I invite you on a marketing date.
Usually in a marketing plan you would now write a piece about your competitors. But as I think it more important to focus on the people you want to work with instead of looking enviously at those who might steal your clients this analysis is not the competitor analysis but your network analysis.
So who is your network? One wise man called Porter Cale once said „Your network is your net worth“ and he has even written books about his statement. And I can just agree with him. The better your network, the stronger your business will be. This refers to referral marketing , word of mouth and public relation but also to having loyal „friends“ in your industry you can rely on and who will help you when you need help. So how do we get all this fluffy soft stuff that people call word of mouth marketing and a strong network? I have to disappoint you very early in this blog post: This is the first step in your marketing plan where you need to leave your desk, and it wont be done in one day. True relationships take longer to grow.
If you are just starting out than start by making a list. Let’s say you are a wedding photographer: make a list of
1. photographers who ware in your region or who have the same client like you have,
2. vendors like florists and jewelers who are either in your region or would be booked by your wedding couples,
3. wedding locations in your region or locations where your couples would get married.
Make it a broad list you can always make it smaller afterwards.
Now that you have your list look at the people that you already worked with or that you already know in person or through social media. With whom of those contacts would you like to work more or who is the photographer you liked best as a person? Write them a message, invite them for a coffee or if you are lucky when there is a wedding networking event in your region invite them for this event for them to meet other vendors and of course you.
For the other vendors that you don’t know in person yet, choose a very few that you are really really keen to work with or to meet. Think about if you could meet them at a networking event and make sure you introduce yourself to them during the event. If there is not big networking event in your region you can still write them a message. Tell them how much you adore they work and why you would love to meet them and invite them on a coffee date. Most people who get positive emails like that would never refuse a coffee date.
So now I see you sitting at the opposite side of our little bistro table playing with your wine glass and getting uncomfortable. „What should I to them? I don’t like networking events it is so crowded and I know nobody there. How should I just walk up to them to introduce myself? I would rather stay behind my computer and keep stalking those people on Facebook….“
I am totally with you: Networking specially in the beginning when you know nobody is painful. You will walk into a room of people that you never saw before and the only thing you want to do is running away. I know that feeling because when I went to the first networking events in the Netherlands in 2009 I was that girl who stood in the entrance of the room looking at all those foreign people and wished I would have stayed on my couch at home in my comfort zone.
These are my steps for success to make those events work for you and to get behind that awkward feeling of being lonely in a crowd of people.
1. Get something to drink – maybe no alcohol you want to stay clear and sober when you present yourself and your business. Just get a glass to hold in your hands because you will feel a lot saver when you hold something opposed to two free hands that hang awkwardly besides your body or are hidden in your pockets.
2. Search for the persons that you wanted to meet at the event. Walk up to them and if they are in a discussion to interrupt them, that would be too pushy. Try to get into the circle of people that surround them, put your most beautiful smile on your face, hold out your hand towards them and say „Hi I am Jennifer, I think we didn’t meet before.“ Lucky you the hardest part is done because every kind person will shake your hand and say their name to you (and you only want to network with kind persons). And now you can start telling them how you heard about them and how you like their work.
3. After the hardest part is done you are now in the conversation and now we set the step to make your network become a great network of great relationships: Ask the person what YOU can do for them instead of asking them to promote your business. Just imagine if anybody would ask you if they could promote your business in their floral shop, or sponsor some flowers for your next shoot or simply add your name to their referral list on the website, what would you think about that person? She is quite nice isn’t she? And just like that you made yourself interesting to somebody else and acted differently than 80% of the other vendors.
I know this is a long post. I just didn’t want to leave you standing alone in that room full of people. When you get to meetup with somebody for coffee instead of a networking event you can just start with point number three.
So let’s do this, write your list!
Have a lovely weekend.
Do you have any questions or comments, just post them in the comments below.
I am looking forward to answer them.
PS: You might consider using your own name instead of mine when you introduce yourself.