There are so many (big and small) benefits of networking and working with other cake decorators (competition) and yet so many don’t. Here are steps and tips on how to network with your competitors and how it benefits YOU and your business.
Networking, in general, can be one of those things that just add a little extra stress to your day. But the reality is… networking grows your business.
Don’t get me wrong. I love going to networking events – business and social. However, attending them all the time is something that I am not fond of.
There seems to be one every week or fortnight, and to be honest – ‘I gots me other stuff to do, yo!’
Life gets busy. With business, with family, with friends, with chilling out, and with doing activities that you enjoy to keep happiness flowing in your life.
But I do make the effort every 2-3 months to go to an event, especially for business networking, because, to be honest – ‘Networking helps your business grow, yo!’
Networking is a very important part of growing your business, and when you implement it, you can start to see all of the benefits involved.
And I’m going to touch base on how networking with the ‘competition’ has its benefits. So you can see just how important it really is.
Even if it seems daunting to begin with, or embarrassing to reach out. Maybe it just seems plain scary that you’re going to open up about your business to other people who could potentially ‘steal’ your business and customers. You are not alone in the fear of competition.
Networking with the ‘competition’ is something that I do on a weekly basis. Short, sweet and informal. But it happens each and every week. And I can see exactly how my business has grown from this.
Benefits of Networking with Other Cakers
- It can save you money and time.
- It can give you exposure.
- You can talk with people who understand the business.
- You can ask for a helping hand when needed.
- It shows you’re approachable and genuine.
- It can lead to referrals which means more business,
- It can get you out of a pickle.
- It can shed new light on your way of thinking / running your business.
- It can give you confidence in your products and pricing.
- It can lead to new opportunities
The list goes on… and it really is… so… simple.
How to Network with Other Cakers
I want to start by letting you know some ways that I network with other cakers in my community:
- Coffee catch ups – very rare, but they happen
- Facebook group messenger
- Providing goods/services (eg: selling them cake toppers, macarons, biscuits etc)
- Inviting them to be interviewed for my blog posts
- Communicating in regards to pricing, products and suppliers
Other ways I network within my entire community, you can find over here.
Now, I’m going to list each point that I find personally, for my business is beneficial:
- Coffee catch ups allow us to physically meet our fellow cakers. Get a feel for their personality, and if you actually ‘click’. Even though networking is super important, do you really want to be networking with somebody who you think is a bit of an *insert whatever negative descriptive word you’d like*?! I know that I wouldn’t. And I know that I don’t refer my customers to other cakers who I don’t ‘click’ with, ask them for advice, or even give them a second thought… for whatever the reason may be.
- Facebook group messenger is a way that I keep in contact weekly with a few of the local cakers. There are 4 of us in the group, and I also have 2 others that I contact on a regular basis via separate messages. We all have Facebook. It’s super easy to ask questions. Rather than picking up the phone to call, or sending an email individually, it’s pretty easy just to send a PM and ask any question you desire. The questions range from ‘do you think I’m charging too much, I just got knocked back on this’, to ‘does anybody have a spare 16” square cake board on hand I can grab’, to ‘I’m just having a crappy day and need to vent because…’. And chatting with each other isn’t all about business. We learn about our family and friends, pets and houses, garden projects and hard times. We are essentially friends. Not just networking with cakers.
- Providing goods/services, I don’t do too often. I simply just don’t get asked that often. But every time that I do, there is no way that I would ever say ‘No!’. Providing goods/services to other local cakers. I do get the occasional request from my fellow caker in town to make them a cake topper or bake a batch of cookies or macarons as additions to their creations. Why? Each reason varies. It may be something they don’t have time for or don’t provide in their range, and need to outsource. But every time I do this, I usually get a mention and tag in a Facebook post, or a referral next time they get a request for such items. It’s handy.
- I have also invited a couple of local cakers to be interviewed for my blog posts. Everybody really does have a point of difference within their cake business, and I have no problem sharing this with my cake customers. There are simply some designs and some techniques that I cannot pull off. And there are local cakers who I KNOW can pull them off. So I refer my customers to them. Better to send them somewhere quality, than promise something you just KNOW you can’t deliver to them. So I have written blog posts about my ‘competitors’ and featured them on my website. People really get to see that I’m not ‘scared’ of the other local cakers, and that I, in fact, support them and am willing to be honest and refer when needed. And in return, I get the same from the local cakers.
- Lastly, simply communicating. We all have questions. Some of us have been in the game longer than others. Some of us have different insights. Some of us shed a new way of thinking. Some have valuable information they don’t think to share unless asked. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to. If I get asked questions, I seriously am an open book. In my experience, asking my local cakers questions has so far caused me to: reduce my expenses in areas of packaging and fondant purchases, saved my butt when I couldn’t fulfil orders because my daughter fell ill, gave me insight on particular techniques and why I should be charging more, pointed me in the direction of a much better florist… and the list goes on.
So you can see just how beneficial networking with your local cakers and ‘competition’ is.
I highly recommend you listen to the Angel Foods Show podcast interview here with cake decorators and ‘competition’ who network and help each other out.
Related: Cakes Are Their Own Worst Critics
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What are your thoughts on networking with other cake artists? Comment below!