At a recent 1-to-1 with a fellow BNI member and Fine Art Portrait Photographer, Michael Epaul, he came well prepared to our meeting. “I read and earmarked, Givers Gain,” I said sheepishly.
Michael’s a pro. Always ready for the next business opportunity, he presented me with 5 different sheets of information about himself, as recommended by BNI. Oops. Missed that memo.
At first glance, two of the most confusing sheets to understand, were his list of 10 Competitors and Top 3 Contact Spheres.
It wasn’t a list of his competitors, rather it was a list of his best customers competitors. For example, if his most enjoyable work comes from landscape businesses, which need to showcase their work such as landscaping patios, driveways, natural and manmade stone sidewalks and retaining walls, then his best customer’s competitors would also be high-end landscapers.
Michael would not go to his best customer’s competition down the street. Instead, he would go outside his best customer’s geographic area, to other high-end landscapers. Through his contacts at BNI, he shares his Top 10 Ten Competitors List of landscape businesses he’s targeting, and asks if they know anyone on his list. If they do, would they make a referral so that he’s not cold calling?
Armed with an impressive portfolio of landscape photography, plus an introduction, he has a greater chance of picking up new business than if he was to cold call, or send a brochure in the mail.
Contact Sphere List
To determine his top 3 list of professions in a Contact Sphere, Michael first drew up a list of the 10 industries associated with weddings because Michael also specializes in wedding photography and portraiture. His list contained everyone from a florist to a wedding event planner. From that list of 10, he whittled it down to the three professions that would help round out his Contact Sphere.
Now, the next time I go to my hair salon, and my hair dresser tells me about the styling the bride and bridesmaids’ hair (which she has told me on more than one occasion), I can recommend a really great wedding photographer, and hand her one of Michael’s cards. She might want to hire Michael to photograph specialty hairstyles to promote this type of work to increase her own business, plus she might be able to recommend Michael to her customers, if they’re looking for someone to photograph their wedding.
Before There Was Social Media There Was Business Networking
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have certainly made networking feel new and exciting.
Taking the time, and making a commitment to reach out to other business people and letting them know who I would most like to work with, and what services I can offer, can take my business to a whole new level…the old fashioned way.