FINDING NEW CLIENTS: CRAFT FAIR NETWORKING
When we started Weekend Creative, we were looking for ways to expand our network and actively reach new clients. We knew that making a first impression in person was better than making cold calls, so we sought out our local craft fairs. Having the fair dates on our calendar helped us create a deadline to complete our website and marketing materials.
We didn't know what to expect, but we came away with several good leads, and felt more prepared for future networking opportunities. We both were surprised at how nice everyone was, and how well our business was received. We found that the more natural the conversation was, and the more questions we asked, the better the outcome.
Here's a quick list of how we prepared for networking, some tips for presenting yourself, and how to follow up. While we used craft fairs to network, these can be applied to pretty much any networking situation.
1. ESTABLISH YOUR BRAND
Develop a clear idea of who you are and what you do. Think about why companies should hire you, what is the need that you are going to fill?
2. DEVELOP YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
Gather your work into one place on a website that is well-designed and represents your brand. Create social media accounts that make sense for the clients you want. Invest some time in creating quality content (or repurpose content from past projects) and consider using promotional tools on Instagram/Facebook. Also be sure to promote your accounts to your family and friends and ask them to follow your new adventure.
3. GET YOUR MATERIALS
Now it's time to invest in marketing materials such as business cards or stickers. These materials will be your first impression on your clients and should be an extension of your brand. Make sure that your design is consistent with your website/social media platforms. Include your name, contact info, website, social media handles, and summarize what you do in three words or less.
4. FIND NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES
Look up local craft fairs, workshops, and conferences to find ways to meet potential clients. Here's a few places to get started: Eventbrite, Etsy Teams, FestivalNet, Renegade Craft, Rising Tide Society, Meetup, & Facebook Events.
5. PREPARE YOUR SPIEL
Find a way to condense your brand and selling points into a sentence that will start a conversation. For example, if you do content creation for brands you can say "I own a company that creates content for brands to use on their websites and for social media. Are you ever in need of photography?" Practice introducing yourself to friends so you can feel confident.
6. READY, SET, GO!
At some point you have to take the leap, you don't have to have every single little thing in line before promoting yourself. Grab a coffee and put yourself out there, you might be surprised at the outcome. It can be intimidating to talk about your brand to strangers, but if you start by complimenting their product and showing genuine interest in what they do, it will usually lead into a conversation that feels natural.
7. FOLLOW UP
Make sure to ask for a business card so that you can follow up with potential clients. A few days after meeting send them an e-mail letting them know that you would like to work together. Reiterate what you do, and add a personal touch related to what you talked about at the event. Follow up in a month or two if you don't receive a response, be persistent and let them know you are still interested.
Here is an example of a follow-up e-mail:
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We loved meeting you at your booth at West Coast Craft. It was wonderful to finally see your candles in person!
I wanted to follow up with you and let you know that we are available to discuss any photography needs you have. We would love to work with you in the future if you ever need photos for your website, social media or ads.
Looking forward to talking soon!
We hope this list is helpful as you prepare to network and promote your brand. Growing your business starts with putting yourself out there. Remember that you have something unique to offer, and that your work is valuable.
Is it the weekend yet?