18 Apr 2018
Crafter’s Companion founder, Sara Davies MBE, discusses how a little bit of networking can go a long way to making sure you stay ahead of the game in such a competitive market.
Growing your customer base and tapping into new audiences is a major part of ensuring your craft business’ success and what better way to do that than by building out your contacts?
Networking can seem pretty daunting, and unless you’re naturally very sociable it can be difficult to reach out to so many new people. The best piece of advice I can give you is to remember that everyone is in the same boat. Making new connections can only help your business so keep that in mind when you’re at events and try to approach networking with an open mind.
Initially, it’s a good idea to become a member of the Association For Creative Industries and get involved with a community of like-minded people, such as craft manufacturers, retailers, crafters, makers and creative professionals. It’s the perfect way to make connections in the industry and meet people who you can then collaborate and exchanges ideas with. Becoming a member also gives you access to learning resources and discounts on event passes to aid your networking endeavours.
Events and trade shows can be a great way to grow your professional circle and remember you can learn from the competition, so speak to as many of your direct and indirect competitors as possible. Being open and friendly is a great way to start yourself down the path to a possible collaboration, which could expand your customer base, so even if you’re a bit uncomfortable at first, it’s definitely worth giving it a go!
Think about reaching out to craft designers and bloggers, you can easily get more recognition for your products by working with well-known people in the industry and developing professional looking projects. This can be very beneficial for both parties, as marketing your combined work on your own platforms as well as theirs will ultimately mean more internet traffic and interest for both of you.
You could take this even further and hold an in-store event with a special guest. Getting well-known personalities in the industry to host demonstrations or workshops could really pique the interest of your customers and bring some new visitors through the door as well.
Alternatively, if your business is primarily online, try asking them to do a guest tutorial on your blog.
You could even organise a blog hop with other retailers, which could increase traffic to the websites and help more people to see your content. Perhaps you could all post a tutorial using the same theme one week, then a different theme the next, or perhaps you could each do a new technique video using a new product. Working collaboratively to inspire your customers and spark their imaginations will make them want to try new things which can only be good news for you!
However, it’s not always about making new connections, it’s also important to nurture the relationships you already have even if you don’t have any immediate plans that they could get involved in. It’s always worth the extra effort to make business transactions pleasant. If you’re not friendly with your trade suppliers, you could be missing out on opportunities to make connections further up the ladder! So be open-minded and welcoming because you never know!
And it’s as easy as that! Follow these tips and you’ll be networking effectively in no time! Good luck and get started!