Selling Yourself: Networking
I wanna talk about networking. Okay we've done the oh aren't we all so shy and pathetic, aren't we? I've been there. I was the biggest one out of the lot, the biggest victim. How can I talk to these people? Oh for God's sake, listen to us. We're all, these were real hurdles. I felt it in my heart, not being able to speak to people, but now that I can I realize I've always spoke to people. So these stupid limits, they stop, and when they stop, now you're talking and now it's time to do something. So let's talk about what we say when we're selling ourselves to other people, networking. Let's talk about getting past that fear and now talking about, can you hear me?
That's actually what I was gonna say in mine. Just quickly for the imposter thing, I got over that by being prepared, having my price list and my website ready, so if anyone needed to go check to be sure, I had all my stuff there and a lot of practice. And then talking to people and selling myself, I don't really like to talk...
about myself. So what I would do when I would meet people out and I wanted to tell them about what I did is I would tell the stories about the people that I've photographed. I could talk about that quite easily, their experience, why they came to me, what they were using the photos for, and that got people really excited to come and book a session with me, so.
Go ahead Nikki.
Similar to what Hika said, I try to make it all about them, and I know Sue mentioned this yesterday as well is when I go to a networking group or at a women's show, I start with oh, what do you do, or I love your top, or I love your hair. Make sure it's genuine, but just start. People love to talk about themselves. Eventually, they're gonna ask you what you do. And people always say to me when I say I'm a portrait photographer, they say, oh, I hate getting my photo taken, I'm so not photogenic. I'm like good thing for you because it's not your job to be good in front of the camera. It's my job to pose you and direct you and that's what I specialize in. And I actually put that on my website too, and that I think has really helped with my bookings. So that's something I focus on too 'cause if you're in a room full of women, if you ask, hey how many people like to get their photos taken, how many people love to get in front of the camera, everyone laughs. No one raises their hand, and that's when you can say, well lucky for you, this I what I specialize in.
Well, and for me, it's similar. People don't really care. This gets asked a lot in the group too is how do you network? Well, they don't really care so much about you. They care about themselves. People love to talk about themselves. So it's a simple engagement of what did they do, what are you walking on right now? Oh that's interesting, tell me more. And eventually if they're the kind of person that most people are, they're gonna bring it back to you, and ask you about you, but it's just that initially. And people ask me this all the time, 'cause I do a lot of networking in the community. I go to tons of networking events, but I network in my community right around my business. I go and introduce myself, hey my studio's right over here. I'm a photographer. Tell me what you guys do. How's business going? What are you up to? Is there anything I can help you with? Oh my gosh, what do you mean? Well, where do you wanna increase sales? You have enough clients? It's all the same questions. What if somebody came to you, this is the way I always put it to people, what if somebody--
Hang on. Was there something?
The buzz, yeah.
What she which said, those five questions, will transform you. Did you notice the flow in her language started to become very easy and fast because she wasn't asking for anything or selling anything. She was like, I'm a photographer in the area. How are you guys going and getting lots of work? How are you networking? How are you marketing? She instantly flipped it to them, and ultimately it's gonna come straight back to her. But there was never at any time did you hear Tammy say, my name is Tammy Zurak Allen, and I'm a portrait photographer, and I'm gonna sell myself to you in this moment. Like that, right there, is the bridge that everyone says, how do I break that first ice. Let's do more. Give me more.
If you're terrified, which is most people are, I can't even walk in the door, well that's fine, but don't look at it like it's about you. It's about them, so just flip it. Think about if you're in your studio, and somebody knocks on your door and says hey, I own the restaurant down the street. I just saw you had a great studio. I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself. Tell me about more what you do. Oh, you guys serve food here? Maybe we could work something out or we could work together. It's just like solving problems where we work. Oh, that'd be awesome 'cause you know what, I need lunches for my clients and just flip it. Now what can you do for them in their business they usually need? The first thing you do is go and look at their website before you walk in the door. Do they have pictures on their website? Are they any good? Do they need head shots? What are the things you can, you already know in your head, you could fill the gap with. So when you walk in that door and they're like what do you guys need, what can I do to help you, they don't even know sometimes. Well you know, I was looking at your website. Those pictures, have you had good head shots lately? Maybe we could work something out. You guys do, like there's a florist in my complex, hey you guys do flowers, I love flowers. My clients would love flowers. Maybe we could work together. So that to me is just finding a solution. It's not about you, it's always about them, and it's easy because they like to talk about them. If you can help them succeed with their business, guess what, they're really happy to help you with yours. So if you give them something that you know you can create cards for them to use to market their business with your work, and then it's a double edge sword.
Bethany's got her hand up.
One thing to look out for in networking too, which I'm seeing a lot in the group, is they're trying to find so many different ways to network that they're forgetting to ask themselves what am I gonna get out of this relationship because they're looking for any excuse to network with people, but yet they're giving away services. I'll do a free photo shoot for this or I'll do this or I'll do this, but there's nothing coming back to them. So that networking has to work both ways if it's going to grow your studio or your business. So I just wanted to make sure to mention that because I think a lot of times us creatives, we give too much, and we're giving that away just to get our foot in the door, but that person's not invested back enough to send us business.
Well, I feel like that's the people in their group are probably not where we're at. Most of the people that are out there are probably saying to themselves I had to harness my energy to even walk up and talk to somebody. Walking through the door of a business near you, that's earth shattering for some people and what we do. And you just have to just take yourself out of that equation. Look at any situation, anybody you meet, anywhere, if they're in business of any sort, ask them about them because that will lead you back to how you can work with them because it's about both of you working together. And that's all you have to find is that common ground. It's just like when you're dating, you're looking for what do we have in common and how can I work with you to make it better.
I would say for me, one of the things that really helped me with going to networking events and things like that was to kind of free myself from this idea that I needed to close or like propose marriage at the event itself. All I have to do is start a conversation and have a friendship begin. It's not a sprint, it's kind of this marathon thing that I go every single month to these networking events, and I see a lot of the same women. And the women I met the first time have gone to my website and then the next time, they're telling everyone else, oh yes, and she's excellent. I've seen her work, you should see her video, it made me cry, go to her website, and I don't have to have the burden of even trying to sell myself any more. I can just say, I am Emily London Miller and I am a portrait photographer for women.
So now we're getting past the point of being able to talk to people, and we're getting into the I'm now telling people quite comfortably what I do. But what people are asking in the chat is when do you bridge that little wee fragile gap between this is what I do, and you have to pay for it. I think you answered the question when you said, "When I go to Macy's, I know I'm gonna take my wallet." So people are like, but are you giving it away for free? And how do you say, but I charge for it?
Well for me, I just assume they assume that they're gonna have to pay for it. I show my work. I don't sell myself. I show my work. If they ask me, I talk about what I do, but I sell my work. I have little books with before and afters. Let me just show you what I do. And then the questions come up as I'm flipping through, and then somebody said they tell the client's story while they're talking, that's what I'm doing. Every picture is a story, and they see themselves in that, and they're like, oh. Then they ask about the price, and I'll say, you know what? Why don't you come into the studio, just like I said before, let's come on in, let me show you everything. We can talk about what that looks like, and they go okay.
If Emily came up to me in a networking event and said hi, I'm Emily and I'm a graphic designer, I'm not instantly thinking in my head, oh she's totally gonna do this for free. I'm totally gonna get this for free. So when I walk up to someone and say, hey I'm Nikki, I'm a portrait photographer, they're only gonna think that they're getting it for free if I offer it to them for free. Now if I'm portfolio building, absolutely I might talk to them about that. Another time that, and I will still do this on occasion, if I meet someone that I know has a lot of connections, might be an evangelist for me, I might bring up, hey do you wanna do a trade or someone might ask me, hey do wanna to do a trade. I'm very selective of who I do trade with, but that is something to look at because if that person is really well connected and is gonna give you a lot of referrals, that's something to consider, but bridging that gap, there isn't a gap unless you offer it for free, in my opinion. So if you go in feeling really confident and this is what I do, they're gonna expect you to charge them.