The Power of Connection

September 4, 2013 § 3 Comments

I have been rambling my learnings here and there for a little while now, but as I preach about the value in learning I know more importantly that I must practice what I preach. Going on two months now I have been following along in classes about social media, growing and nurturing an effective photography business, as well as the value of networking. Ironically for me, it was like taking a course on how to better position Photography by Akili so that my company is on the global map, and how to do it the right way. More or less, steps that should be taken before you start a business so that you start off strong, but nonetheless good to take at some point so that you learn how to constantly re-evaluate your standing. Collectively, all of these classes have added value to me and my business that I wish to share with all of you here.

Social Bootcamp

A little while back I posted a piece on Mastering Social Media. At that point I wasn’t sure what I should be doing, how I grow the online relationships and connections I was making, but even more importantly the significance of having a strong social media presence and plan for that presence. In the segment called “Social Media Bootcamp“.  CC Chapman, Kim Garst, Ariel Hyatt, and Amber Naslund went above and beyond to put real social media into perspective. While this will not answer all of our social media questions or concerns, it did put me on the right path to assess whether what I am doing is working or if it isn’t.

The trick to social media is to recognize that it is  constantly evolving. The platforms we have now, may not be the platforms we have tomorrow. However, at the very least, they may not be utilized the same way later on down the line as they are today. So what does that mean for us? It means we have to implement a strategy that will work no matter what platform we use. When I first started in social media I thought I had to be on every single platform. Currently I have an Instagram account just sitting there. The reason being, is it does not work for me at the moment.

You should think of your social media network as the numbers in your cell phone. When you talk to the people in your phone you are a real life person, you are authentic, and you are engaging. What you have to say has substance. When it comes to social media, the very same thing applies, you have to offer conversation that is authentic, valuable, and appears to be coming from a caring and empathetic individual. In analyzing my approach I have realized that right now the platforms that work for me are Facebook and Twitter, with Twitter being my favorite. While I may choose to dabble in Pinterest and Instagram at a later time, that time is not here now. Since implementing the tools of this course, my social media connections have more than doubled.

Mastering Business Fundamentals

Renowned St. Louis wedding photographer Salvatore Cincotta led an amazing three-day course on Mastering Business Fundamentals. He outlined his entire approach to his business from the time he started Salvatore Cincotta up until 2013. He showed his mistakes, his flaws, and his lessons. One approach that works for his business, create stellar packages. The catch, everything that you sell in a package must be on an a la carte menu for individual purchase. How do you get your clients to purchase a package when they can simply purchase it a la carte? You hike the price for the a la carte item forcing them to purchase the package because it is of greater financial value.

But Sal had more to offer than just simple tricks of the trade. What you also learned from this course was how to remain in business. 8×10 portraits, should never sell a la carte for anything less than $25. You will not make any money, nor will you remain in business if your cost of good exceeds 15%. That means, if you charge $1,000 for a package, the amount it costs you to fulfill that package should not exceed $150. In addition to remaining below 15% you want to make a plan every year to increase your productivity by at least 50%. These simple principles will keep you profitable, and it will keep you in business. Next, sounds like it would be common sense but all of your materials should be uniform, they should be consistent. Most importantly, make your clients feel good, appreciated, and special. Give them a blow your mind wow type of experience when they utilize you for their services. According to social media bootcamp, 70% of people on social media do so for the purpose of friends and family. When it comes to your clients, you want to move as close as possible to the family circle while remaining your true self. Do it for the sake of seeing them happy, not to get close for a profit.

Networking is your Net Worth

So you finally reach a point where you have your social media strategy and you have your business strategy. How do you make it all work? The final icing on the cake over these couple months came from Porter Gale in her course called Networking is your Net Worth. Networking is all about building wealth through a steady  stream of relationships. While this flows parallel to social media, they must be examined separately. You do not build a social media following for the sake of it. It is a two-way street of information sharing and interaction. In choosing the people to follow search for those that are progressing in your industry, outside of it, and then not in it at all. Search for people who have substance to offer that you can learn from. At one point Porter advised when going on a trip to a new city use your social media to see who is there that you could meet. Social media is the best place to easily meet people from all walks of life. It is a place to easily build solid friendships that extend past the call of business.

Networking is your Net Worth taught you how to look deep within yourself to determine the type of message you wanted you presence to convey. Having a solid message will carry you far and wide. People instinctively see your message, morals, and can access insight into your character. Net worth does not just happen overnight; it does not happen without solid relationships that take place in person as well as online. Have fun in your journey to self-sufficiency as business owner. The key is to keep your goals in mind and position yourself, and your company to always resonate clearly what your message is.

Learning is the best way to progress. Take as many courses as you can, search for free ones, and make the best of your resources. Connections are you key to learning, networking, and ultimately building your brand. Never forget the ultimate goal you have set for yourself. Take time, evaluate yourself on a personal level. If your personal ideals and morals do not fall in line with your business ideals and morals, it will certainly come out in your message.

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