Wedding Photography Referrals + Etiquette

I
've been thinking about referrals lately, specifically referrals in form of peer endorsements. Nothing feels greater than receiving a referral from a fellow photographer...no, really, a referral from a friend feels the way Nutella-stuffed strawberries taste: amazing. I've mentioned this before, but I built my business on word of mouth referrals, and a large amount of these referrals came from fellow photographers my early years of business. I go into depth about how I created a network of photographers to pass referrals to each other in Exposed Magazine, but today I want to chat about referral etiquette.

I love helping photographers build their businesses, so if I can send referrals to brides looking for wedding photographers when I'm booked or unavailable due to budget constraints, I will. In fact, I love pairing up photographers with clients! I feel like I'm fulfilling my lifelong dream of being a matchmaker!

In order for me to find the best match, I request basic wedding information and budget so I can give realistic options for the bride. Now, I've assembled a short list of photographers in different price brackets in Southern California and I consult this list when sending referrals. I encourage every photographer to make a list of referrals and hopefully your business is on someone else's list too! I believe what goes around, comes around...


Here's a a few tips on business referral etiquette...

WHAT NOT TO DO:
*Avoid asking photographers for referrals...if another photographer wants to send business your way, s/he will. Trust me.
*Do not send a mass email to a group of photographers requesting their overflow business. Not only is this impersonal, it's tacky.
*Don't feel entitled to a photographer's referrals...when a photographer sends a lead your way, it's an honor and should be treated with humility and respect.

WHAT TO DO:
*After every lead you receive, follow up with a thank you. Email, a hand-written note, a gift...anything to express appreciation. I can't express how disheartened I am when photographers don't say thank you. I've stopped sending referrals to photographers who habitually refrained from saying thank you...I prefer to endorse those who know how to express thanks.
*If you want to build your referral network, get out and get to know people. Like, really know them. Make friends, become invested in others, and find ways to help. The more you put yourself out there, the more chances you have to showcase who you are in a professional capacity. This means going to mixers/networking events, getting involved with an online forum as an active participant, and/or offering your assistance before expecting anything in return.
*Send referrals. It's always nice to cc other photographers in the referral email to let them know you're directing a lead their way...the next time they have a lead to send, you might be in the forefront of their mind because you showed interest in creating a business alliance. Total win/win.

I hope this offers insight into referral etiquette within the wedding industry, but if you have any questions, leave them in the blog comment box and I'll try to answer them later today!
Happy Monday!
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Faridism Photography - thanks Jasmine for the tips   07.14.14 - 2:35am
Shah Photography - I agree, passing work if I'm already booked enhances the industry in the eyes of the couple which can only be a good thing. I'm very selctive who I refer and always appreciate acknowledgement of a referral.  06.11.14 - 4:28am
Paul Keppel - I couldn't agree with you more. I have 2 or 3 photographers local to me and we pass each other booking if one of use is double booked. I to always CC the photographer in the email so they have a point of contact with them straight away.   01.24.14 - 6:16am
MAXIM PHOTO STUDIO - My rule is 5 referrals and if I don't get a thank you or a some feedback perhaps a referral (quid pro quo) I stop sending the referrals to these photographers. Love is unconditional, wedding referrals are not.  04.10.13 - 6:04pm
Leon - If it was only this simple here. I haven't really met a lot of nice photographers/videographers here in Orlando within the wedding industry. :(  04.10.13 - 9:06am
Belinda - Thank you Jasmine for sharing this info! I'm currently trying to build my network of Orange County photographers too, as well as figure out what the proper etiquette is and this post in particular has given me some helpful tips. =)   04.04.13 - 3:57pm
Wedding Photographer Braintree - I regularly meet up for lunch with fellow photographers, it's a great oportunity to chat catch up etc and provides a nice little net work to make referals to each other.  04.02.13 - 3:51pm
Samantha - Great post Jasmine! I definitely know what you mean about sending out referrals to my peers and not receiving a simple thank you. I have definitely decided not to pass along referrals to those people any more, business shouldn't be so one sided!  04.02.13 - 11:46am
Alan Law - Great post, Jasmine - agree with you on all accounts. Sending business to other photographers when you're already booked is not only good business sense, but it's just a nice thing to do all round - for both the clients, and the potential photographer. Also gree with you 100% about expressing thanks - I also stopped sending referrals to photographers who couldn't even be bothered to say a simple thank you.  04.02.13 - 1:23am
Xiomara - Once again, thank you SO MUCH for the great advice. On Creative Live Restart you said that early on you started sharing a calendar with a few close colleagues. We began doing that in our Restart Oregon group and just had a little meet up to get to know one another.... this wouldn't of happened had you not given so much of yourself at Restart . So again..... THANK YOU!!!!  04.01.13 - 10:11pm
sara - So huge. Referrals can make or break a young wedding photographer career..   04.01.13 - 10:03pm
Matt Ramage - So true. I feel that sometimes this is overlooked in my own interactions. Thanks for the reminder. :)  04.01.13 - 10:02pm
Shhivika Chauhan - This question had been on my mind lately, and imagine my joy when I saw your blogpost addressing it! Thank you Jasmine. Its always about paying forward :)  04.01.13 - 7:53pm
Lissette Suarez - Thanks for the great tips and reminders. I get leads which I honestly appreciate and feel very humbled but I'm not quick to thank them. That's going to change starting now! They're going to know how much I appreciate their trust in recommending me to their clients.  04.01.13 - 1:52pm
Laura | Crowned Photography - I was so excited to hear you talk about this during ReSTARt! Definitely been networking with a lot of photographers here in Colorado & excited that because I am venturing solely into a very niche market of birth photography now, I can send my portrait sessions their way, and vice versa! Making genuine, mutually-beneficial connections with other photographers is so important!  04.01.13 - 11:31am
Shauna Nicole - Great stuff... THANK YOU!  04.01.13 - 9:51am
Kristin Cooley - LOVE this! I'm big on thank you's, especially hand written notes and gifts. Thanks for reinforcing my belief in them. I once had a boss who made an effort to send at least 10-20 handwritten notes every week, it sounds like a lot, but it made a huge difference in her business. Is that the 35 you're shooting with? Debating my first L prime purchase, hmmm....  04.01.13 - 9:32am
Roze Studios Photography - I absolutely love the idea of the cc. This is a great way to make sure the other photographer knows that it is coming from you. I always just relied on the client mentioning that I had referred them.   04.01.13 - 9:19am
Jennifer Medeiros - Classy and helpful. Thank you!  04.01.13 - 9:04am
Tanya - Thanks Jasmine for the insights and advice, much appreciated! You mention gifts - what type of gifts are appropriate do you think for a referral?   04.01.13 - 8:39am
Tim Hilario - Awesome, as always. Noted every single point! :D  04.01.13 - 8:18am
Liz Cowie - I loved this article. You make some excellent points.  04.01.13 - 8:10am
heather - Thank you for emphasizing etiquette! So often I find I don't get a thank you when I pass a lead on. We all need to be a little kinder :)  04.01.13 - 7:54am
Monica Justesen Photography - Great advice! This is something that honestly never even crossed my mind until a fellow photographer lead to me booking my FIRST wedding! It was an incredible f