Yesterday we spent the afternoon and evening with some great friends, and incredible photographers. All combined, we have over 100 years of professional photography experience between us.

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When we first started building our business, we were out attending wedding fairs, and promoting our businesses in a variety of ways. At one wedding fair we had a booth across from another photographer. We spent the day chatting in between the busy times, and struck up a great conversation. We did dinner later that evening, and the rest is history.

We started meeting regularly for dinner to chat about business, and soon decided it would be fun if we had other photographers in the group as well. So we invited a few other friends, and soon built a core group of 8 separate photography studios. We would meet every month at one of our studios, rotating so we all got a chance to host. We would “talk business” and share new tools and strategies we found useful.

We’ve all come along way since those first few meetings. But the friendships we created were for a lifetime. Even after several years of not seeing one another, we fell right in to the old conversations.

If you would like to set up your own photography masterminds, here’s some tips to get you started.

1. Start with two or three. Don’t grow too big to begin. Start with 2 or 3 core people, and establish the rules for the group. Where do you want to meet? What’s the structure?

2. Decide on a group limit, and start inviting guests. Don’t automatically assume everyone will become a member. Have them try the group out, and then have the core people vote on acceptance. You want to make sure everyone is a good fit for your group.

3. Have time for fun, and time for business. The person who hosts the meeting can take charge of its content. Maybe a one hour photo safari? (We had amazing photo shoots with our mastermind group. Okay, we even got into the spirit again yesterday by having a Zombie and a Thriller photo. Yes, it’s hard to break old habits!)

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4. Refer each other. We were all wedding photographers when we formed the group. We kept each other’s calendars in our studio. If we were filled for a date, we knew who was still open, and would refer them to the prospect. We even created a marketing co-op to help market each other’s businesses.

5.Colaberation not competition. Never think of other photographers as your competition. Why? Because there is more than enough business to go around. For us, we only photographed 30-40 weddings per year. Why not find a friend to help market your business, and to help fill their days as well? When seven other studios are giving your recommendations, you can better believe a prospect calls up excited to talk with you, and excited to book with you.

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