Gari-Ann Kia mentored with us a few months ago as she prepared to move her photography business for the first time from Alabama to Virginia. Today she is sharing how she implemented some of what she learned when it comes to reaching out to vendors as she restarts in a new market.
Reaching Out to Vendors
Building relationships is number one in the establishment of any business, but especially important in the process of moving your business to a new market. But how do you reach out to these amazing people in your new town prior to actually physically being there? Here are some tips on finding the right people to connect with and ask for that meeting!
First off, you’ll have to make a list of vendors that you feel align well with you and your business. I looked for others that had a similar audience and professionalism as myself—style, price point, social media presence, website, and client experience. There’s a lot that you can read from just looking through instagram feeds! I started there and then dug a little deeper into their websites. Make a list of what you love about each vendor—what you love about their business or their clients, what you enjoy about watching them on social media, or how you feel you align well with them.
Start engaging with these people/businesses on social media. Like their posts, comment with meaningful feedback (not just emojis), and watch their stories! Get to know them and their businesses through what they put out in the world. They will start getting the hint that you’re someone who is truly interested in them and what they have to offer.
I had the opportunity to travel to my new market prior to moving to the area. I set aside 3 days to meet with every wedding vendor that would agree to meet with me. About three weeks prior to our trip I sent out individual emails to each person on my list (make sure it doesn’t sound like a mass email!!). I knew that I couldn’t just ask for coffee…no one would go for that…I wanted each person to know that I was truly interested in getting to know them, their business, and my new market. (Pro tip: don’t send this email out on a Friday, most wedding vendors are preparing for a Saturday wedding and your email will get pushed to the bottom of that inbox by Monday morning)
- This is the place to introduce yourself—who you are, what you do, what audience you serve
- What brings you to the area
- Make sure to mention anyone who referred you to them here too!
- The point of these paragraph is to let them know that you have done your research and you’re truly interested in meeting them
- This is where that list from your market research will come in handy
- List some of the reasons you love them & their business
- Why you might align well with their business or clients
The Ask Paragraph:
- This is where you ask for a meeting/phone call
- Make sure to make this easy for them:
- Give them a few dates/times to select from that work for you, no one likes going back and forth
- Go to them! Where ever in town they are, go to them!
Provide them links to do more research on you:
- Social Media Links
At the meeting, let them share. Don’t be too consumed with talking too much about yourself…this meeting is not about you, it’s about getting to know them and their business! After all you’re the one that needs this information. Ask lots of questions and find the ways that you can help serve them and their clients. Don’t be afraid to take notes and pictures to share later!
Be careful not to make this a mentoring session! Many people get turned off if they feel like they are being manipulated into giving you free education–you’re here to connect with the person, and learn more about the area…not to ask questions like, “can you tell me all the ways I can make my pictures look just like yours?”.
I made sure to bring a little gift from my favorite tea shop to say thank you for meeting with me.
Follow up Email
Make sure to follow up a few days later to thank them for their time. I personalized each email with things that I felt we connected well on and what I was excited about. Following the meeting, make sure to continue to connect with them from a far through social media.
With these steps I successfully met with every person that I reached out to, 10 to be exact. They spanned from venues, event planners, other creatives, and publications. Each person emailed me back immediately and was so excited for the opportunity to network with someone new. Many mentioned that they get asked to lunch or coffee very frequently and turn most meetings down, but the genuine way that I went about connecting made them want to meet with me. The relationships that I have with those around me are truly the most important part of my business. I can’t wait to continue fostering these relationships before and after we move to our new home!
Want sample emails like the ones Gari-Ann used in reaching out to vendors as well as a few we use ourselves?
I hope you have enjoyed this post. Do you want to dive deeper into how to be successful in new markets or are relocating your business and need some help?
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