Networking is one of the best tools for receiving awesome, qualified leads to your business. The key for turning networking into a lead is to be thoughtful and visible. Get out from behind your computer and meet people in person. This can be in an industry group or one to one. Start by researching other vendors and industry groups (for example ILEA, Rising Tide, Chamber of Commerce and ABC).
Pay attention to which vendors have similar couples, style and approach to you. These are the vendors you want focus on because you want to book the same couples. Once you identify this “dream team” of vendors that look for a similar client, make an effort to refer them and work together. Next, contact those vendors that you would like to meet. You are not selling your services to them; you are getting to know them and starting to learn about each other. The slow season is a great time to invite a vendor to coffee, tour a venue or offer a free mini photo shoot to meet or get reacquainted with vendors. After the meeting be sure to follow up with an email thanking them for their time or to really stand out send a handwritten note.
Don’t be afraid to network with vendors who provide the same service as you. Over time these are the vendors that will become close friends because they are the ones that understand the struggles, wins and challenges in your specific profession. There will be dates when you are booked or unavailable and need to refer a couple. You never know when you’ll have an emergency or an assistant that calls in sick and you need to rely on a vendor friend with your skill set to and style help out. Finally, the best way to get referrals, it to give referrals. So go out and meet some new vendors or re-connect with your favorites so that you can refer each other and work together with clients you both enjoy. When it comes to leads, you want quality over quantity. A lead from a valued vendor is a very high quality lead, because the vendor knows you, your style and what the client is looking for.