While skill and technique might get you, clients, these will often not keep your clients coming back. The most successful photographers are the ones that understand the importance of building relationships with different individuals both in your industry as well as the people you work with. While this may not seem like an easy task, as many photographers can tend to be on the shy side, it doesn’t have to overly complicated or terrifying. Don’t think you need to build a relationship as a freelance photographer? You might change your mind.
Benefits of Building Relationships
- Clients will often return and use professionals they have already worked with. If you build a positive relationship with your clients from the start you have a loyal client for as long as they need your service.
- People who have a good experience working with you will often recommend you to their friends and others. This is a key way to get your name out there to a much wider market.
- Staying in contact with those you have work with before and not just clients but editors or publishes you will stay fresh in their mind when another project comes up that is in need of a photographer.
- You have the opportunity to gain access to a number of other jobs that are rarely listed or advertised for. When you maintain a good relationship you will most likely be considered for gigs that are only filed by referrals.
Steps to Build Relationships with Photography Clients
1. Make a list.
The first step you want to take to build a better relationship is to create a list of those you need to stay in contact with. While some relationship will evolve naturally, others you will have to create a strategy to build the relationship by. This list should include previous clients as well as other photographers, editors, publishers, agents and even bloggers. When creating this list you want to begin with 50 individuals that you want to strengthen your relationship with. These are the 50 people who five years from now when you’ve become well established you want to have in your circle. The 50 people you list will be the first 50 people you begin to build with, Over time this will become second nature, but if you are on the shyer side this may take some effort and practice.
2. Ways to stay connected.
Now that you have a set list you need to consider how you will start to contact and naturally build a relationship through. This can be done a number of ways.
- Schedule lunch and coffee meetings. Simple reach out and invite some of the individuals to grab lunch together or sit and have coffee with them. Remember this is just a starting point to sit down and better get to know one another.
- Interviews. Ask some of your contacts if you can interview them. If you have your own blog or website this is a great way for you to not only build a relationship but also generate some great content. This can often lead to new clients asking for your services.
- Meetings. Many local business meetings are an ideal way for you to build relationships. Search for local business meetings that are occurring in your area, you can go and connect with others or you can also invite some of the people from your list to attend as well.
3. Give more than you receive.
Building relationships are often looked at as a give and take, but in this instance, you want to give more before you think about asking for anything in return. This is where many people make the biggest mistake of relationship building. They often fail to give to the relationship before requesting something from the other individual. You don’t have to give extravagantly, you can simply offer suggestions, feedback or insight on the most basic areas such as restaurant recommendations. Always find a way to add value to the other person this will give them a positive outlook on who you are as a person and not just someone looking to gain something. To do this you will need to learn a bit about the other person and from there you will be able to easily find ways to add to their life.
4. Have a system.
It can be challenging to maintain constant communication with a large number of people and while you might start out strong you may quickly find yourself slacking off in the relationship building department. It is vital to create a system that will allow you to turn to see who you need to contact next or follow up with. You want to create a system a number of ways, either by creating a spreadsheet or using an app that helps you track conversations. This system should include:
- Individuals name
- Contact information
- How you met
- When you last spoke
- What you spoke about
- Future plans to meet up
- When you need to follow up.
This should be a simple system that helps you not overwhelm you. You will be visiting this list a great deal to determine who you should continue to build a relationship with and who you have found that you might want to cut from the list.
5. Always add to your list.
In order to build key relationships, you need to be adding to your list regularly. Since you will be getting out more and talking to people more this should be an easy task. Whenever you are introduced to someone new be sure to remember then, get their business card or have a way that you can contact them. Add these individuals to your list and don’t forget to reach out to them.
Building a strong relationship can open up a number of opportunities that can further your career as a photographer. While this can seem like more extra work it should be considered as a vital aspect to maintaining and growing your business. The steps above show you a clear and easy way to get you started in building your professional relationship and how to stay on track with building them.
We hope that this list of tips has enlighten you and opened your eyes to what you could be doing to help build better relationships with your clients!