Building Relationships: my reach out strategy

Reaching out & Expanding into a New Market

Building relationships is number one in the establishment of any business, but especially important in the process of expanding your business into a new market.  We are a military family and that means moving my business every 2-3 years (it’s tough!). In my 9 years of business, I’ve moved to a new market 4 times…and now looking at my 5th in another 17 months. Relationships are an essential part of my moving process & the success of my business.

But how do you reach out to these amazing people in your new town prior to actually physically being there? Here are some tips on finding the right people to connect with and ask for that meeting!

Market Research

First off, you’ll have to make a list of businesses/individuals that you feel align well with you and your business. I looked for others that had a similar audience and professionalism as myself—style, price point, social media presence, website, and client experience. There’s a lot that you can read from just looking through instagram feeds! I started there and then dug a little deeper into their websites. Make a list of what you love about each—what you love about their business or their clients, what you enjoy about watching them on social media, or how you feel you align well with them.


Start engaging with these people/businesses on social media. Like their posts, comment with meaningful feedback (not just emojis), and watch their stories! Get to know them and their businesses through what they put out in the world. They will start getting the hint that you’re someone who is truly interested in them and what they have to offer.


I had the opportunity to travel to my new market prior to moving to the area. I set aside 3 days to meet with every wedding vendor that would agree to meet with me (at the time I was a wedding photographer). About three weeks prior to our trip I sent out individual emails to each person on my list (make sure it doesn’t sound like a mass email!!). I knew that I couldn’t just ask for coffee…no one would go for that…I wanted each person to know that I was truly interested in getting to know them, their business, and my new market.

(Pro tip: don’t send this email out on a Friday, most people are preparing for their weekend and your email will get pushed to the bottom of that inbox by Monday morning)

Introductory Paragraph:

  • This is the place to introduce yourself—who you are, what you do, what audience you serve
  • What brings you to the area
  • Make sure to mention anyone who referred you to them here too!

Love Paragraph:

  • The point of these paragraph is to let them know that you have done your research and you’re truly interested in meeting them
  • This is where that list from your market research will come in handy
    • List some of the reasons you love them & their business
    • Why you might align well with their business or clients

The Ask Paragraph:

  • This is where you ask for a meeting/phone call
  • Make sure to make this easy for them:
    • Give them a few dates/times to select from that work for you, no one likes going back and forth
    • Go to them! Where ever in town they are, go to them!

Provide them links to do more research on you:

  • Social Media Links
  • Website
  • Portfolio
  • LinkedIn


At the meeting, let them share. Don’t be too consumed with talking too much about yourself…this meeting is not about you, it’s about getting to know them and their business! After all you’re the one that needs this information. Ask lots of questions and find the ways that you can help serve them and their clients. Don’t be afraid to take notes and pictures to share later! For more tips on networking, check out my blog on Networking like a Boss.

Be careful not to make this a mentoring session! Many people get turned off if they feel like they are being manipulated into giving you free education–you’re here to connect with the person, and learn more about the area…not to ask questions like, “can you tell me all the ways I can make my pictures look just like yours?”.

I made sure to bring a little gift from my favorite tea shop to say thank you for meeting with me.

Follow up Email

Make sure to follow up a few days later to thank them for their time. I personalized each email with things that I felt we connected well on and what I was excited about. Following the meeting, make sure to continue to connect with them from a far through social media.

Example Reach-out Email

Hey Kelsey!

Happy Valentine’s Day!! First I would love to introduce myself, my name is Gari-Ann Kia! I’m an established wedding photographer and we are moving into the Williamsburg area for my husband’s job relocation. I was given your name by Meredith Ryncarz, who speaks very highly of you!

I’ve been following the Historic Post Office on Instagram for the past few months and I just love all your posts and can’t wait to see your wonderful venue. It looks like exactly the kind of venue that would be a photographer’s dream. I’ve also joined the Hampton Roads Tuesdays Together Group on Facebook and love that there’s an active group in that area. My favorite part of being in the wedding industry is being a part of the wonderful community of vendors, getting to know people individually and seeing how I can be of value to a great team. In Huntsville the group is really small, so I’m looking forward to be apart of a larger, more active group.

We’re going to be in town in March to preview the area and would love to tour the Historic Post Office and chat with you more about the local wedding market. Is there a date between March 19-21 that would work for us to meet?

I would love for you to see some of my recent work:

I look forward to meeting you,
Gari-Ann Kia

Example follow up email:


We just got back from our whirlwind trip to Williamsburg and accomplished everything that we set out to do while we were there visiting–we put a contract down on a home in New Town, visited the kids’ schools, got to know the area a bit, and I met with so many amazing wedding vendors like yourself. We’re getting back into the groove of life here in Huntsville before we pick and make the big move to the local area in July. 

Before too much time goes by I just wanted to say thank you again for sharing your time and your talent with me. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and can’t wait to spend more time with you after we move into the area. I feel like we’re going to be fast friends!! I have images being edited right now from the session we did with your amazing bouquet…what magic you can make from grocery store flowers. I’ll make sure to share when they’re complete!

Thank you again!!


With these steps I successfully met with every person that I reached out to, 10 to be exact. They spanned from venues, event planners, other creatives, and publications. Each person emailed me back immediately and was so excited for the opportunity to network with someone new. Many mentioned that they get asked to lunch or coffee very frequently and turn most meetings down, but the genuine way that I went about connecting made them want to meet with me. The relationships that I have with those around me are truly the most important part of my business. I can’t wait to continue fostering these relationships before and after we move to our new home!

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.