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Connections drive your business. 27 ways to build more connections.

2 glaring examples

Within the span of an hour, I had 2 occasions impress upon me the value of connections in life.


Book cover for Never Eat AloneKeith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz wrote a book called Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time. I’ve never read the book, and it shows. Today, I prepared to eat lunch alone.

However, as I sat alone in Taco Bell, I saw 2 friends from my little town. We were 20 minutes from home, so it was complete chance. I ate with them.

I connected with them, and my day brightened. I felt like I was a part of a community.


I got home from that lunch, and I talked with my wife, Kia, who told me about several connections she had on Facebook today. Both were with professional photographers. One was thanking her for a great idea she shared, and the other was sharing with her a great idea.

Her connections are making her a better person, photographer and business woman.

As professional creatives who rely on clients who want and need our services, it is imperative to build and foster relationships.

With that in mind, here are 27 ways to connect and to build relationships. Most aren’t groundbreaking ideas, but use it to  think about how to build the most forgot about currency in your business – relationships. Continue Reading →

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Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world

Met a goal.

I gave myself the goal of finishing the book Platform by Michael Hyatt by the end of last week. This post means that I did indeed finish the book.

I wrote about the first (and truly most important) section of the book earlier – Is your WHAT (product) a WOW? I have more thoughts about the book, and how they relate the photography industry, but I thought I would start by giving an overview of the book via this handy infographic. It’s the book in one image.

Important note:

The perspectives and insights shared in Platform aren’t necessarily novel or new. You may have read them in any number of places online or in books. What Hyatt does is show how he did it in real life, and how he has found success.

Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world by Michael Hyatt

Read more about Michael Hyatt and his thoughts on creating Platform by visiting

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Is your WHAT a WOW?

Get noticed in a noisy world.

Michael Hyatt's Platform book coverI’ve written about Michael Hyatt and his blog – – multiple times here on The Collective. Now, he’s given me another reason. The above headline, “Get noticed in a noisy world,” is the byline for Hyatt’s new book Platform.

He wrote the book based on his experience of building his blog into one with more than 2 million pageviews a year and over 140,000 followers on Twitter. He built this tribe (as Seth Godin would call it) into one big enough to push the book to #4 or 5 the week of its release on Amazon (it couldn’t break the 50 Shades of Grey phenom).

It’s starts with what.

I’ll be honest, I’ve only gotten through the first 50 pages of the book. I’m stuck (in a good way) on the first section – Start with a Wow. Hyatt shares your platform, network, or tribe can only reach as far as the product you create. The better the product, the further your reach will take you.

It’s the first step. If you don’t have a product that matters, then you don’t have a reason to build a group of people who will follow you.

Only better is better.

You don’t need me to tell you there is no shortage of photographers available to take a portrait, do a wedding or cover an event. That generic “what” has been covered.

The key is to be better. You must decide how YOU will be better than any other option your potential client has (including Uncle Harry and the DIYers).

Seth Godin recently wrote one of his classic 5 word blog posts (9 if you include the title). He wrote:

Is more always better?

Sometimes, only better is better.

You can exchange “more” with:

  • different
  • cheaper
  • smaller
  • personal
  • boutique
  • bigger
  • longer
  • volume
  • shorter
  • etc,etc,etc

In the end only better is better, and only you can define what better is.

A what with WOW!

What does a what with WOW look like? I chose these 3 examples – 1 from within the industry and 2 outside the photography world.

John Farnsworth

John Farnsworth calls himself a “football artist” with good reason. He is a Guinness world record holder in 5 areas of soccer/football freestyle and is a World and European champion. He can do things with a soccer ball using no hands that many people can’t do using their hands.

He’s performed in over 30 countries, sold videos, and put on clinics. He’s turned a wow product into a way to support himself and see the world.

Tim and Beverly Walden

I remember Kia returning from one of her first ever photography conferences over 15 years ago. She described to me a husband/wife photography team who were creating incredible “relationship” portraits AND selling them like no one else she had ever seen.

That of course was Tim and Bev Walden and their Black & White Relationship portraits they are famous for in both their area of Kentucky and throughout the photo industry. The WOW product they created helped develop a platform to further Tim and Bev as business owners and teachers.

We Love Kids

Joni Wise has created a WOW “product” via the non-profit organization We Love Kids. Based in Cambodia, We Love Kids actively works with children in danger of poverty, drugs, gangs and human trafficking.

Joni Wise's We Love Kids ministry

A majority of the children Joni and her group work with have not become victims because of We Love Kids. They use the power of education, love and a healthy meal to give these children a shot at rising above their surroundings.

Interestingly, Joni and We Love Kids is working toward building a platform to expand and widen their reach in Cambodia and beyond. Take a look at what We Love Kids is doing.

Is your what ready?

I’ve had to seriously ask myself the above question recently. Is my product a WOW?

If your product isn’t a wow, what will it take to get it there? What steps do you need to walk through?

If your product is a wow, then ask yourself if you are building your own personal platform to share it with the world. That’s the next section of Platform, and I look forward to sharing it with you.

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Take your business into uncharted territory.

cover image of Blue Ocean StrategyBlue Ocean Strategy.

Blue Ocean Strategy is about differentiation. It’s an old concept in new packaging – “how to” instruction. In most industries the sharks (business competitors) are attacking each other and blood is in the water creating a red ocean. In a blue ocean there is little or no competition — fewer sharks.

Going where they ain’t.

The book offers six paths to being different:

  1. Look across alternative industries. Restaurants, movies and day spas all compete for the same dollar. What competes for professional photography dollars?
  2. Look across strategic groups within your industry. Strategic groups are separated by the price value equation – such as luxury/economy. What makes someone bump up a notch? How do brides decide against a shoot and burn photographer and choose a high-end photographer?
  3. Look across the chain of buyers. In weddings observe the groom, the FoB, MoB, and of course the bride. Who is not included, who should be included, or should you change who the decision maker is?
  4. Look across complementary products/services. For portraits your client needs wardrobe, hair, make-up, location, and in weddings a bride need flowers, hair, make-up and a dress. How does that affect their decision to use your service?
  5. Invert appeal. In photography most appeals are emotional, so instead go functional. Personally, I’m not convinced this leads to blue ocean, but that’s me.
  6. Trending. Apple used the trend of downloading music online and legalized it by getting agreement from the record companies – creating iTunes. The authors say this is the most complicated strategy (The book calls it timing).

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WPPI 2012 Review | Zach and Jody Gray

WPPI 2012 review

Today, I am starting a multi-part review of WPPI 2012 – focusing on the classes I attended. I am not going to give you a point-by-point review of each class, but will give you 3-4 of my top takeaways.

I did a similar review of the Fall 2011 spa Event. Some great info here:

Zach and Jody Gray

WPPI 2012 logoI began following Zach and Jody during the Pass Premiere tour a few months ago. I met them briefly at WPPI 2012, and I had interacted with them a little online (Twitter, email, etc). They have impressed me with their brand and online presence – built around Zach and Jody).

I was excited to attend this class…I wasn’t disappointed. It easily fell into the top 3 classes I attended during WPPI 2012. If you’re not already, I would suggest following Zach and Jody on Twitter, Instagram or their blog.

Here are the top 4 points I took from their class:

1. Success depends on 2 things…

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