Whether you’re a photographer, videographer, wedding vendor or creative entrepreneur, everyday life as a solopreneur can often feel isolating. While running a one-person show definitely has its perks (being your own #BOSS), the unpredictable highs and lows, and those sanity-crushing burnouts, can become emotionally taxing over time. Even more so if your family and friends are busy in their “standard” 9-5 jobs and just don’t get it, as hard as they may try.
Now, before you dismiss “networking” as an old-school business tactic or hide behind your introverted shield, let’s be honest for a moment.
Sure, you’re often having the best time with your clients on the weekend, capturing and partying up their joyful moments with them…but most of your days are spent at your desk – catching up on the boring admin, updating your socials, editing, client meetings, and the like – ALONE. All by your lonesome.
And with most of your family and friends working the typical 9-5 hours, your flipped schedules rarely match up, meaning in-person, “proper” catchups are always a bit of an ordeal. Sometimes you’re so behind and overworked, you don’t even have the time to take a break. When you do get a bit of downtime, you spend it catching up on sleep or binging the latest Netflix series.
Let’s not even talk about those of you who are juggling life as a biz owner AND a parent (or caretaker), or working a full-time job on top of your creative side gig 🙌🙌🙌. All the responsibilities, none of the time – and very often, little to no support from people who truly understand and “get it”, not just empathise, with where you’re at and can give you the business/ mindset advice you need.
Meaningful networking is about nurturing win-win relationships with other like-minded creatives. Throwing you a lifeline during the good and the bad times, it’s more than just adding to your list of “business connections”.
Yes, attending networking events IS one way to expand your circle but it’s not the only way to network. While it’s great to get outside of your comfort zone, especially in this increasingly digital age, how you choose to network should feel authentic to who you are and how you want to do business.
Plus, you shouldn’t feel limited to only networking with others who do what you do. For example, if you’re a photographer, don’t just network with other photographers – broaden your circle to include videographers, industry vendors, like-minded creatives, and clients!
The more you give, without expecting anything in return, the more you’ll encourage reciprocation.
For example, if you’re a…
If they say yes, happy days! This not only gives you the opportunity to organise a proper meeting but also to prove how amazing you are to work with, with your sample work showing what you’re capable of delivering for them and/or their clients.
Sure, you might get ignored, ghosted or even “no but thank you” responses. Don’t stop until you get that first “yes, let’s do it!” and then keep going.
Rather than waiting for others to reach out to you, create the opportunity to reach out to them!
Find mutually-beneficial ways to collaborate with other business owners and creatives, even if it doesn’t provide instant gratification. The key is to start somewhere and get the conversation started, than not do anything at all because you’re worried about being rejected.
The longer the list of potential collaboration partners, the more chance you’ll have of securing someone. If multiple people say yes (🥳 #goals), then you can consider hosting multiple collaborations to maximise the opportunity.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer who wants to create more content for your portfolio and socials, you could plan and host an epic styled shoot with other industry vendors.
Reach out to florists, wedding attire designers, potential venues, etc. – and don’t forget, you can also hire a photographer and videographer to photograph and film BTS shots of you in action, perfect for your branding and marketing content!
The more irresistible your concept/ idea, the more likely others will get excited and want to be a part of it. Just make sure that everyone who’s participating feels equally seen and heard – and be sure to set clear expectations.
This may be old news but it remains true nonetheless. The amount of time internet users spend on social media is now higher than ever — a whopping 151 minutes per day. More relevantly, 71% of small-to-mid-sized businesses use social media to market themselves, so it really is THE place to grow your “professional” circle.
More than just a means to attract new clients, use social media as an opportunity to connect with other like-minded businesses – and I mean, actually connect, not just a few “likes”, “hearts”, or the occasional “love this” or emojis-only comment. Don’t treat your interactions and engagements as a half-arsed obligation to tick off your never-ending to-do list, do it with genuine intention and stay authentic to who you are.
Image Credit: Smith Brothers Media
Go the extra step by sending them a personal DM and letting them know. Spread the love by sharing it via your own story and tagging them in it. That extra care factor can go a long way in sparking new conversations and friendships.
Similarly, if you’ve just learned something new or have a hot tip that would be game-changing for other businesses, share it! You don’t have to be an “educator” to share your learnings and insights with your community. Don’t want to spam potential clients with business-related content? Add other creatives and business owners to your “Close Friends” list on Instagram so you can share your business/ education updates with that specific audience only.
The more you show up authentically (read: not like a follow-me-plz bot), the more you’ll organically boost your online presence and be able to get in front of the right people.
As Tim Sanders once quoted, “Networking is your net worth”.
To better explain it, Porter Gale who authored the book “Your Network is Your Net Worth” says: “I believe that your social capital, or your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships, not your financial capital, is the most important asset in your portfolio. I believe that seeking out and working in collaboration with others who share your interests and values will provide a stronger foundation, enabling you to reach a higher level of success than you would on your own.”
“Therefore, I believe that your ‘net worth’ will be based, not on the size of your portfolio or the size of your network, but on your ability to define and stay true to your passions and values; and that working with other people who share them will allow you to build a strong and enduring interpersonal safety net that will carry you through any financial calamity to greater output and personal fulfilment”.
With that in mind, you should actively find ways to join and show up in local and global online communities.
For example, if you’re a family photographer and a parent, join local mothers/ parent groups where you can support others (while organically marketing your business). If you’re a website designer, join groups where you can not only further improve your skills but also connect with other like-minded web designers who might be open to referring you to potential clients. Join groups for local creatives and business owners.
That’s also why so many photographers and creatives have joined the Six-Figure Business Map! More than just any ol’ online course, the community is what keeps them on track and motivated to hustle their dreams.
Again, give more than you take. The more you show up for others, the more likely they’ll return the favour – all it takes is one referral.
Whether they be virtual or in-person, attending networking events can help you build connections, gain knowledge, and expand your opportunities.
Whether it’s referring clients, brainstorming new ideas, organising exciting collaborations, or simply being a listening ear, many hands make light work.
It also helps to have other creatives and business owners, who are on a similar journey to you, holding you accountable to your goals and keeping you on track towards your North Star. People who can advise you on what to do or guide you towards a solution, and not just the usual “oh, don’t worry, you’ll be fine, you’ll figure it out” throwaway-albeit-well-meaning reassurance.🥺
Never expect people to give you their valuable time and energy if you have nothing to offer in return. If that’s the case, be direct about why you’re reaching out – don’t beat around the bush before ambushing them with your request.
Networking is just one of the many important areas – read ‘6 Business Skills Every Photographer Needs to Grow Their Biz‘ for more tips!
Give, give and give some more before you take and always seek out mutually-beneficial opportunities so everyone feels like a winner.
The Six-Figure Business Map is a 12-month online course and community for photographers, videographers and creatives who are ready to:
This is a space where everyone has an equal seat at the table.
The Business Map opens for enrolment at 9AM on the 22nd of May – but if you jump on our waitlist, we’ll load you up with bonus FREE training to help you celebrate wins before you even join us!