Networking like a boss!

“Hey yo, Gari-Ann! What have you been up to? How are you keeping busy and developing your business?”

Good question! I’ve been making very deliberate decisions about my business relationships and every day I’m pushing towards my goal of growing my professional branding business, Kia & Co. Getting involved in a lot of organizations around Richmond and the Hampton Roads area is a big part of my marketing & networking plan…because I’m a true believer in “you never know where that’ll take you”! In the past I’ve gotten my best clients and experiences by saying “YES!” to opportunities that come my way.

No, I’m not doing EVERYTHING, but being very mindful about making the connections that are true to my life as a mother and Army spouse, but also as a creative and business owner. 

Collaborating with other creatives

Reaching out to other creatives and vendors in the area–florists, event planners, marketing professionals, business owners, and local online publications–was something that I did prior to even arriving in town (see how I reached out to others to expand my business into a new market). In my other photography brand as a wedding photographer, I’ve learned the value of nurturing a relationship with other vendors, it’s not only great to be able to work with friends, but also valuable when you can provide great vendor referrals to your clients, knowing they will treat them exactly as you would. Through branding & styled shoots, I’ve been collaborating with other amazing professionals, fueling my love for this creative industry.

I’m volunteering in a way that’s authentic to your life

I’m a true believer in being involved and giving back to your community where you can, especially the communities that are authentic to your life. As a mom and Army wife, being involved with my kids at school and with other Army spouses gives me great joy. 

I’ve started volunteering in my daughter’s class room one morning each week, which allows me to get to know her teacher and the other children really well. As a parent, I love this first hand experience of being in her classroom and witnessing the great job her teacher is doing. Ellie is so excited that her mommy is coming into her class and we look forward to the lunch that we get to enjoy together on these days. 

Since our first duty station, I’ve been involved in the Spouses clubs and have been on the board at each of them in different capacities, volunteering my time and talents. As soon as we got here I contacted the Spouses Club of Fort Eustis to see how I could get involved. They were looking for a club historian, easy peasy for me! 

Working with planners and venue managers on events

As a photographer that wants to get hired for events, it is important to me to get in front of the people who make those hiring decisions or recommend vendors to clients…these people are event managers at venues and event planners. Over the last few months I’ve photographed a few events, working closely with these professionals for organizations like St. Jude, Bacon Street Youth Services, Ducks Unlimited, Ford’s Colony Country Club, Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, and the Williamsburg Craft Beer Festival. 

I’m Mingling with like minded people

As an introvert, business networking events scare the crap out of me! I can’t handle showing up to a room full of people, it makes me want to glue myself to the walls. But I’ve found organizations that have events that are smaller and more intimate groups. I’ve been consistently going to networking groups in Hampton Roads like Tuesdays Together and the Peninsula Women’s Network and I see the start of some great relationships! I’ve also joined The Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance which I hope will better connect me with my new community and other business owners within it.

Finding my own tribe

As I started meeting people who I looked at as amazing business women, I wanted a forum to gather together on a regular basis. I invited four ladies, us all having different creative businesses, to be a part of a goals group where we got together at the end of each month to chat about our personal and business goals for the next month. I found it incredibly helpful to stay accountable to myself and put my hopes and dreams out into the world…talking out barriers or getting encouragement from people who know exactly what it is to be an entrepreneur. 

I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I feel like I’ve done a great job building a strong foundation for my business in our new home. I know that I’ve been successful when I have friends and relationships with people who are my personal friends, not just referral sources…that’s what’s most important at the end of the day. 

meet Gari-Ann

Gari-Ann Kia is an accomplished Branding and Product Photographer with a passion for helping creatives and professionals elevate their brand by showcasing their product, promoting their services, or simply enhancing their brand image. Gari-Ann's expertise in branding and product photography will help you stand out from the crowd. With years of experience in the field, Gari-Ann has honed her skills and developed a unique approach to visual storytelling that resonates with her clients and their target audience to help them stand out from the crowd.

Gari-Ann currently lives in the Washington DC area with her husband and two children. She enjoys traveling with her family, some of their favorite destinations have been Santorini, Wanaka, Paris, & Aix en Provence. In her free time, Gari-Ann enjoys giving back to her community by supporting fellow military spouses & their families and mentoring other small business owners.

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