I believe there’s a right way and a wrong way for creative entrepreneurs to build relationships and approach industry influencers for collaboration. The wrong way will get you a bad reputation and likely lose you business. The right way will get you new, real life friends and help you book (possibly) a lot more business.
Case in point:
I recently asked our coaching clients in our private Facebook group what one thing has been working great for them recently in their businesses.
Almost 100% of them included the word: relationships. A couple quick examples:
- “I think, for me, building relationships is going well! I’ve been getting tons of referrals from really great people, and I am just so grateful!”
- “Both online and in person! The local networking group of purpose-driven, faith-fueled women I joined has proved quite fruitful.”
And I’ll never forget the call when one of our clients said an industry influencer who she’d been following and admiring for years, ended up hiring her, our client!
Here’s the deal. In all the marketing strategies that exist, the best of the best always comes back to building genuine relationships. Key being word: Genuine. I’m going to say this word a gazillion times in this post.
Maybe you’ve been daydreaming about working with so-and-so whose business you’ve been admiring for forever. Maybe you’ve been hoping to increase your brand presence by aligning yourself with a well-known brand so potential clients become actual clients with more ease. Maybe you have a specific project in mind and wish you could collaborate with _______ (insert creative entrepreneur superstar here) but you have no idea how to make that happen?
I’m going to tell you how.
It’s how we went from admiring conference hosts on the sidelines to speaking at those events and becoming actual, real life friends with them and other speakers in the line-up. It’s also how we, as San Diego wedding photographers (in our former life), went from being total newbies charging $1,000/wedding to booking $5,000+ weddings with ease.
We reserve the play-by-play version of this for our Jetsetters and 1:1 clients, but here’s a general lay of the land…
How to build industry relationships and approach influencers for collaboration
- Start building from the sidelines on social media
- Let them know you admire them, their work, business, the way they balance it all, etc.
- Be a real life fan (ex: leave thoughtful IG comments and engage consistently)
- Show up in their world, genuinely, like you actually love what they’re up to (Facebook lives, webinars, read their books, whatever they’re teaching or putting out in the world)
- Stand out from the crowd
- Send some encouragement and/or love via email or snail mail
- Let them know they’ve helped or inspired you
- Do your research; know what’s going on in their world and business
- Send them an email
- We’re big fans of video-infused emails (Vidyard is awesome!)
- Let them know if you have trusted, real life friends or clients in common (this helps bridge the gap of “who the heck are you?” to “ah, okay, I can probably trust you’re genuine”)
- Mention something you have in common
- Be specific about what you’re asking (coffee date? Google hangout?)
- Offer your help/expertise if it’s relevant to them/know they’re looking for it
This isn’t about buttering people up or saying things you don’t actually mean just to align yourselves with someone who has a lot of followers. That is the wrong way to approach influencers for collaboration. That, and cold calling 😉 This is about building real life, genuine relationships.
It’s not rocket science. But I believe the creative industry sometimes lacks this kind of courtship and connection, if you will.
Use your manners.
Rinse and repeat.
Let me know what’s been working well for your business lately! Better yet, tell me how building genuine relationships is benefiting your business 🙂