by Jennifer Loizzi
Are you struggling to build business relationships? Are you wondering why other vendors aren't referring you instead of your competition? Well, while being able to create beautiful images is important, it simply isn't enough. I’m excited to share with you my tips on building strong vendor relationships. These vendors are not only a good source for referrals, but they are also business professionals we can bounce marketing ideas off of. They have become our friends and make work so much more enjoyable. I know building vendor relationships is difficult, especially if you're a shy introvert like myself, but I’m going to tell you what we did to help us build these lasting relationships. Here are five tips to help you connect and build relationships with vendors in your area.
Sounds easy enough right? So… why aren't you doing it! I know it comes easier to some than others but you have to overcome your fears and just go for it. Make a list of the vendors in your area you would like to work with. Once you have that list, draft up an email introducing yourself and your services and ask them when you can drop by their office or if they would like to meet up. Most vendors will reply and some will not and that’s okay. Remember to follow through and bring business cards when you meet with them. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain from just a simple introduction.
Start by referring these vendors to your clients. It’s really that easy. They may not reciprocate the gesture right away but don’t get discouraged. Over time they will start to refer you. Reach out to them and let them know that you have referred them to a certain client. Or you can send an email to that client referring that vendor and BCC the vendor. It’s going to take time to build this relationship and instill their confidence in you. You should also give them prints, a flash drive, or an album from an event you both have worked so they have something to display to their clients. If you have not worked an event with these vendors, email them and propose doing a styled photoshoot. They can provide their services (florals, dress, planning) and you will provide them with beautiful images! Some vendors may not be interested but I guarantee you that most will be!
We know working weddings and events may sometimes be stressful for everyone involved but there are ways to make it a lot easier. Communication is key. All vendors share one common goal and that is to make our clients happy. Communicate with these vendors to ensure that the day goes smoothly. For example, go over any timeline discrepancies with the event planner. Talk to the hair and makeup artists about where they should set up and make sure to get images they can use in their portfolio. After the event reach out to these vendors and thank them. Communicating and building relationships with other professionals in your industry will make your job so much more enjoyable.
Introducing yourself and working an event here and there isn't enough to build a strong relationship. You have to nurture the relationship. This means stoping by their office with your business cards and a small gift. Dropping off an album or some wall art for the event you both worked. Send out a thank you card. Write a positive review. Visit their booth during a bridal show to say hello. You don’t have to force the relationship. Be yourself and show your gratitude and eventually they will reciprocate.
Building strong relationships takes time and effort. You have to be willing to put in the work and go that extra mile your competitors aren't willing to go. Also, it does not matter if these vendors already work with another photographer. There is always room for more than one. I remember when I first started reaching out to vendors I had a few not respond to me at all. I didn’t let that bother me or distract me from my goal. I can’t stress this enough but relationships take time.Do not get discouraged when it doesn't happen overnight. Follow these simple tips and you will be on your way to building strong lasting vendor relationships.