Since becoming a pet photographer, I have really focused my time building relationships with other local pet industry businesses. These relationships are invaluable, and some of the best friendships I have now have stemmed out of these mutually beneficial partnerships. No regrets.
However as my competition grows, this lovely little group of pet industry folk is getting a little saturated with pet photographers. We are all busy competing for a piece of the same pie, and we are running out of pie! Time to get creative!
I have a good friend in the pet industry that I have known and worked with for nearly ten years. We go to networking events together, and meet (try to meet) every few weeks to discuss our businesses, vent, and find ways that we can collaborate. We have started going out of our industry circles, and started looking for new people, or “fresh blood”, that could utilize our services.
And, what we have discovered is when you go outside of these circles, there are oodles of pet lovers that maybe don’t partake in the pet rescue scene, or the pet groups on Facebook. They love their dogs, and their pets are a huge part of their lives, but they maybe don’t spend every waking moment engulfed in all things dog. (This is crazy, I know!) Which means… when they are introduced to you and your services, you may be the only pet photographer they have heard of. Whaaaat? That kinda rocks!
I am going on and on here, but what I am suggesting is finding a local network group that you can meet with regularly and find some new people outside of the pet industry to partner with. Find other businesses that share your target market. If you love photographing adventure dogs in the mountains, maybe an outdoor apparel company for people would be a great fit for you! If your clientele enjoys the finer things, maybe find a few fine dining restaurants to collaborate with.
Odds are you share a lot of clients, and you can work with them in new ways that you may not have considered in your usual circles. An extra bonus is if they are at these networking events too, they are likely business savvy and looking for the same kind of partnerships that you are looking for.
I know, us introverts hate networking events (I am not even sure extroverts like them!), but consider taking a friend that is happy to sing your praises – this helps a lot. Or just someone that can keep you company and bring you a glass of wine when you feel a meltdown coming on. I promise that the contacts you make at these events will be invaluable and are worth the discomfort. AND, they will give you a fresh perspective on your business and your marketing.
I would love to hear your networking stories and fears over on the Facebook group!
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Yours in solitude, Holly