by Annie Armitage Published 01/12/2015
When I set up my photography business in 2007 I had no contacts. All I had was my talent, a passion for photography, and an ambition to be the best I could be. I now have a thriving business specialising in location family photography and I also work with SMEs, creating headshots and images for their websites.
Together with continual investment in self-development, networking has been a major factor in the success of my business.
Networking is a powerful business tool
I'm not going to pretend - walking into a room full of strangers is daunting. How do you start up conversations - particularly when people already seem to know each other? How do you break into those little clusters of people who are happily chatting away? But I do want to tell you that, once you get over your initial apprehension, networking is one of the most powerful and effective ways to promote your business. In fact, it's been the source of some of my most important opportunities over the years.
Long burn approach
Networking is about sowing seeds for future business rather than walking into a meeting and expecting to get business immediately. People who just talk about themselves and don't ask you questions are unappealing in any social situation. Networking is no different.
It's not all me, me, me
The more you put in, the more you get out of networking. Introducing people can be very rewarding. It shows you're a useful, well-connected person, which implies you're good at what you do and that people trust you.
So be interested in the other people - find out what they need and think of ways to help them.
Get to know people better
The real value lies outside the meeting when you get together with people for 1-2-1s - to use networking speak.
1-2-1 meetings are where you really get to know people and find out about their business. Always remember it's a two-way street. You need to be interested in what they do, what they are looking for and how you can help them, as well as what they can do for you.
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