Networking to Build Your Gunsmithing Brand
Cobwebs are encroaching on the corners of your workshop. Your dusty tools haven’t seen any action in weeks. You need work, and you need it yesterday. But you can’t get to work if the work can’t get to you, so it’s time to start networking.
Before you scoff at the term “networking,” a word typically used by business elites, it’s important to note how networking can influence your job opportunities.
Networking is the exchange of information among people with similar interests, and it helps establish a point of common ground. This helps increase your brand awareness and widens your professional circle.
So, how can you start networking as a gunsmithing brand? Experts point towards these takeaways to leave an impact on prospective clients.
Get a Booth
If you’ve gone to gun shows just to window-shop the new tools, services, and offers, you’re not alone. A lot of people are there doing the same, and these people break down into two groups: those who need your services now, and those who will need them soon. How do you connect with them? Well, you’ve got to bring the mountain to Mohammad in this case.
If you get a booth, they will come. Sure, there might be more people who pass you by than those who stop and say hello, but make no mistake: there is such a thing as getting paid in exposure. Money is a mercurial friend to most people, and, as the Beatles said, tomorrow never knows.
People who think your services are an unnecessary expense today may find themselves in dire need of your help tomorrow. The one and only customer that visits your booth might introduce you to the next two or three, so lock and load. Today’s strangers are tomorrow’s clients.
Stick it to the
Business cards may seem like the obvious thing to keep on hand when you’re networking with potential clients, but not everyone hangs onto business cards. They’re little pieces of paper that are lost to the hungry abyss that claims our missing socks and spare change.
If it’s in your budget, try getting your contact information put onto refrigerator magnets. Everyone needs refrigerator magnets, and they sometimes act as a homeowner’s call directory.
What’s this? A handwritten card? Is it from the past? Is someone being held hostage?! And didn’t this article just say that cards were bad? Make up your mind!
I’m not talking about business cards. I’m talking about big, flashy postcards. The biggest. The flashiest. The cardiest. Whatever picture you’ve got of yourself doing what you love, put that image to work to for you. Grab a sharpie and get those glossy cards printed. Try to personalize your cards as much as possible. Refer to conversation you had, and to their firearm. If you’re like me and having trouble remembering those kind of particulars, invest in a notebook for keeping those kinds of details.
This isn’t the kind of thing that you can do with an email. Tell those customers of the past that you value them, and maybe give them a discount for referring their friends to you. A handwritten note may be an inconvenience in the moment, but it goes leaps and bounds in the eyes of the customer. Recalling a conversation shows dedication and attention to detail, two important attributes to a business.
The Unbearable Specter of Social Media
I often wonder if people in witness protection programs avoid social media as much as I do. If you’ve ever balked at those who record and post every event of their lives, then you, like me, are likely of a certain age. Privacy can sometimes seem like a relic of a bygone age, and even though it’s definitely a beautiful thing to maintain it as much as you can, consider this: no one shops at an invisible store.
You might not be the type to keep up an Instagram account or show off your projects, but consider it an investment in yourself. Of course, this means having a shop clean enough to be worthy of a photo. A post advertising your products can go a long way, helping you connect with personnel that you wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Users primarily view and interact with content made by others, so encourage friends, family, and customers to post, text, update, or tag your business in any way. Of course, there is still value in word-of-mouth, but an online presence helps lead a trail of breadcrumbs for others to see your great work!
Once you’ve crushed that milestone on your to-do list, consider making a video or two of your work. It may feel like it’s a waste of time to upload a gun maintenance video when bazillions of them that already exist, but remember that those who live around you are looking for a craftsperson who’s local. You don’t need to start a TikTok dance craze (though I would love to see that), but as the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. You may not have the equipment necessary to produce videos at the same quality that your favorite YouTubers do, but don’t let that stop you. No matter what tools you wish you had, someone wishes they had yours. Whatever you’ve got, that’s what you need, so do what you can with it today to reach new people.
Written by: Lanna Perkins, Education Writer