Business Takeoff: Know Your Peers
If you are just joining us for the Business Takeoff series, I recommend you start right on over here:
Step 1: Intro Post
Step 2: Define Your Style
Step 3: Create Work
Step 4: Know Your Peers
I often get asked how I was able to get my name out there so quickly when I first launched this company a few years ago. The Big Secret: I put it out there. I networked. I met people and became friends with them. I spent too much money on ridiculously awesome business cards, which helped me be remembered by many people I met. Here is what worked for me, and I hope, will work for you too.
Besides your past clients, your peers will be the people that spread the love for your brand and refer you to their clients, friends, and inquiries they aren’t able to do. By working together, you can all provide a higher level of service to the couples in your area, make more money, and do more satisfying work.
Go to a few conferences
Ah, conferences and workshops. Seems like everyone is starting one these days, right? Which is great for you because you have a ton of choices of which ones to attend! Please promise me that you will attend at least one outside of the wedding and event world? When I went to Making Things Happen in 2011, I became friends with girls that have been my biggest cheerleaders and business coaches to this day. I attended AltSummit in January of 2012, passed around my business cards and told anyone that would listen about my business, which led to working with HGTV and being introduced to colleagues that I work closely with all the time. Neither of those conferences are necessarily wedding and event related, although knowing people from other industries has helped me create revenue streams for my business that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Embrace Social Media
Guys, this one is a no-brainer. Social media has been around for years and it’s not going anywhere fast. My best industry friends, in NYC and around the country, have come from conversations on Twitter and comments on Instagram. This doesn’t mean that I’m refreshing Twitter and Instagram every five seconds. I would never get any work done. Pick a few ten minute periods in your day – maybe over breakfast, over lunch, then once at the end of your work day. Check out your streams, comment and tweet with substance (more than “omg, I love it!”) to your peers that you admire. If you see someone looking for a talent that you have, say event design, write back and let them know you’ll do it for free. That’s how I became friends with Meg from A Practical Wedding: I tweeted her in early 2012 that I would design her Brooklyn book tour party. Now I’m a regular contributor to her site that I’ve gotten awesome clients from. Same thing happened when I was chosen to decorate blogshop twice when it came to NYC. Social media is simply a tool in your tool bag to build brand recognition and relationships.
Attend Networking Events
Yes, I know, sometimes they can be painful. You don’t know anyone. It’s awkward. Everyone else seems to be best friends with each other and you feel like the weird new kid. I promise you, it won’t be like that forever. These events are important for a few reasons: A) when you’re company is brand new, you can introduce your awesome self to your local peers, B) as you get to know people, you’ll become actual friends that go to lunch and work together, C) a few years in, being seen at local networking events remind others that you exist and keep your company at the forefront of their minds.
Collaborate on Shoots
Remember all of those rad people you met at networking events? Invite them to collaborate with you on an inspiration shoot. You’ll get to know each other better, be able to be creative, produce work that will be professionally shot, hopefully get published, and then sing each other’s praises via social media. You’ll also gain a group of cheerleaders who will refer you to their couples and vice versa. Spread the love!
By attending a few conferences, becoming a presence on social media, taking part in local networking events, and collaborating with fellow creatives, you’ll slowly build a group of people who are all running their own businesses to support you.