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Building Stronger Business Referrals

Intro by Skip Cohen

Scrolling through the archives of Chamira Young’s blog, her post about building relationships with other photographers hit home on so many different levels.

First, referral relationships are a great way to make sure you can service every request you get from your clients. For example, you never want to say, “No,” but give your clients solutions. A past bridal client who just had a baby contacts her wedding photographer for taking newborn portraits. However, the photographer doesn’t have the skill set – what a great solution to say to a client, “I don’t do newborn portraits, but I have an associate who does beautiful work I can refer you to.”

Second, there are only so many days in a year, and sooner or later you’re going to be booked on a day a potential client is requesting. Again, rather than saying, “Sorry, I’m booked,” a photographer can say, “Sorry, I’m booked, but I’ve got an associate studio whose work I admire, and I’m happy to give them a call for you.”

Last but not least, think about referrals to other vendors who have the same target audience. For example, florists, travel agencies, spas, caterers, bridal salons, tux shops, venues, wedding planners, band promoters, and limo companies all can work together.

And taking the idea of working with other companies outside photography one step further, Bob and Dawn Davis, specializing in wedding and event photography in Chicago, send vendors images from events they photograph with a note, “With our blessing.” They share pictures of flowers, buffets, table-settings, bands, etc. with the companies responsible for those aspects of the wedding. They ask for nothing in return, but the return they get is undeniable.

Work to build relationships with other photographers and vendors, and in turn, they’ll refer business your way as well.

By Chamira Young

Photographers are a few of the small business owners that really do need to stick together. In fact, there are so many different niches in this art we call photography that everyone can really help each other out.

Many businesses, big and small, have a referral system and can leverage one another to make businesses grow for all of them. Most importantly, these referral relationships are built on trust. To build these relationships, it takes time but the value of being able to refer a photographer and get referred to by others is an invaluable part of a strong marketing strategy with many facets.

Making Relationships
Speaking of relationships, the referral program doesn’t work without them. As you grow your photography business, you need to learn as much as you can from others to ensure that you are making relationships and learning from those in and outside your niche.

As photographers, we can use these relationships as we go to both share work, get work, and give work. The relationship of trust is built over time and you will likely make friends along the way.

Referring Niches
Because photography, as a business, is so varied, you can make these relationships across niches. This is a great idea because it builds a strong base of creatives and allows you to do favors across niches so that each photographer can help one another.

There are so many different facets of photography and each has its own special needs and markets. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you can help many other photographers in helping them find future clients and customers in other various photographs they will need. One example is wedding photos leading into family photos, then newborn photos and more.

Helping the Community
In addition to the many benefits referral relationships give you as a photographer, maybe one of the best is knowing that you are helping the community. By growing your own business in this way, it not only is you building a strong business for yourself, but you are also helping the entire community of photographers and small business owners.

When photographers build small but strong, communities they can create helpful referral relationships that benefit other artists and other people within the community using those services too. This is one of the key components to those of you with small businesses and entrepreneurial mindsets. You make supporting each other a priority and everyone wins.

Doing your part in creating relationships, referring to different niches, and helping the community of photographers of all shapes, niches, and sizes build each other up is one of the best things you can do to grow your own business.