On Friday I got on Instagram Live to share tips to help wedding newbies get referrals from seasoned pros. Without having the proper dialog or not knowing how to approach other professionals with the right intentions, may lead to missed opportunities to gain new friends or gain referrals. I'm reviving "Ica Insight" by sharing more networking tips as promised to all my friends who joined me on Instagram this weekend. So let's get to it!
In business "your network is your net worth". But I believe you can gain an even stronger network by doing what I like to call "friendwork", it's networking but with absolute intention to be a friend, with authenticity & love.
Here are 5 ways to "friendwork" instead of network if you are just starting a business OR if you are stuck in a rut & are looking to try new ways to network. These apply to any industry, but I'll be sharing ways to do this specifically in the wedding industry.
1. SERVE OTHERS FREELY - “The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage.” -Dale C arnegie
If you are just starting out, consider collaborating with another business for free on a project you really love. If there isn't another business you want to partner up with for a project, consider doing a creative project with individuals who are your "dream clients". As a photographer that can be something as simple as hosting a styled shoot or mini portrait session.
I believe there is a distinct difference between working for free without specific intentions and making a creative investment to grow your portfolio & your "friendwork" for free. If you are afraid of being taken advantage of, work on a project you truly love & believe in, then put stipulations on the exchange of work. I don't suggest offering endless amounts of free projects, but put your energy into at least one passion project that can propel you & your business forward.
2. MAKE AN INTERNET FRIEND A REAL FRIEND: GRAB COFFEE OR DRINKS!
Social media is meant to be social, but I find that we sometimes forget that there is a much deeper way to connect with others, oppose to emojis & likes. Offer to get drinks with & for someone whose work you admire. If meeting up in person isn't possible, meet on Facetime or Skype!
If there is a topic or something specific you are dying to ask another business owner, be honest & make your request known. Most people can see right through hidden intentions if you don't verbalize it with honesty that you'd love their sage advice because you respect & admire them. If you simply want to connect & become friends, share that intention too.
Last year I hired business coaches & an online friend reached out about my experience, so we Skyped & talked through my awesome experience, thus solidified an even sweeter friendship in the process.
Is it me or is making friends/networking is a lot like dating?
3. FIND AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP A STRANGER/FELLOW CREATIVE IN NEED
Ever see people post on social media asking for help? Find a way to help someone you don't know, but you want to know & again, do it with a genuine heart to help. On Instagram Live I shared how I offered to help a fellow photographer in need because she posted an SOS on social media, and that connection led to 8 weddings in the last 7 years.
Helping might not mean doing physical labor or offering your services, it might be something as simple as sharing some encouraging words. You never know until you try.
4. PROMOTE SOMEONE ELSE ONLINE, JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN
When's the last time you promoted someone else's business on your Facebook feed or Instagram, and not your own business? How would you feel if another professional promoted your work on their social media accounts or even promoted you on their website? You'd most likely feel loved & encouraged that your first reaction would be to promote them right back, am I right?
It's the gift that keeps on giving. If you are on Instagram, join in on the love & do a Follow Friday post where you share a few other instagram accounts you follow & want others to know about. Heck, you don't even have to wait until Friday ... share the love anytime! Or do a blog giveaway for products or services you love from other businesses. I've seen some Cinderella, collaboration stories come to life from people avidly posting about businesses they love, Like this!
Disclaimer: I'm not talking about any of that "follow for follow" or "like for like" business. That doesn't build authentic friendships, my friends! Sow love & you might just reap it in return.
5. ATTEND NETWORKING EVENTS & "friendwork" your guts out
This is SUPER obvious, but I'm surprised that so many people don't or haven't gone to any networking events for their industry. Are there any local events that are happening in your industry? Sign up & bring a trusted friend with you for added insurance that you will have a great time regardless of how new connections you may or may not make.
You don't get better at making new friends if you don't have new people to make friends with. Simple as that.
Before I go here's one last great resource in learning to network & make friends:
Dale Carnegie's book: How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Was this helplful any or want more tips? Let me know in the comments below. I love having your feedback & I hope your "friendwork" grows because of this!