Today I'm continuing my series for photographers in which I share tips for organizing and systematizing your workflow. And when I say "workflow," I don't mean it in the narrow sense of post-processing. I mean the entire customer experience and set-up of our businesses. If you're just joining us, click here to find a complete list of the posts in The Workflow Series and get caught up!

Today's topic is not ultra-glamorous (and let's be honest...what about workflow really is?) but it IS a crucial part of building your business into a well-oiled machine that is well-networked and efficient. A business is only as good as it's connections, and keeping track of the clients, planners, vendors and venues you work with over the years is foundational to your workflow at countless junctures.

We use four different tools or platforms to keep track of our network:

Address Book for Mac -- This program comes free with all Apple computers. It's a basic program that keeps track of your contact info. We have lists in our Address Book for each of the following: 2nd shooters, clients, associate clients, wedding planners, photographers, publication, vendors, and venues. Address Book works in concert with Mac Mail, so if you have a contact stored in Address Book, you can start typing a name in the "TO" field of a new email, and the email address for that contact will populate. You can also compile contacts into a list in Address Book and type the name of that list into the "TO" field of an email in order to send out a mass email to a specific group.

Emma -- We use this program to send out branded email newsletters. If you want to sign up for my monthly newsletter, you can do so here. I will be talking more about my monthly newsletter later in this series. On Emma, we have databases for each of the following: clients, associate clients, photographers, vendors/planners, and wedding guests.

ShootQ -- This is powerful studio management software that we use primarily for our associate photography program. Through it, you can track and follow-up with leads, send contracts, charge credit cards, and send emails. It can also be used as a database for clients, vendors and referrers.

Facebook -- There's no escaping the fact that Facebook has become a powerful networking tool. It pays to be friends with your clients and fellow vendors. It's free. It's powerful. And it's where the people are.

Regardless of which tools you choose to adopt to keep track of your client & vendor database, the important thing to remember is that you need them to facilitate connection. It doesn't matter if you use these tools or other tools. Just pick what works for you and build the upkeep of a client and vendor database into the systems of your workflow. Remember back in Part 1 of this series when we talked about the importance of systematizing? If you don't build the upkeep of your database into your workflow for every client and event, you will find yourself in a hot mess wishing you had the contact info you need at your fingertips a year or two down the road.

We use our Workflow Checklist to systematize the addition of clients, planners, vendors, and venues to our database. After a wedding is booked, one of the items on the checklist is to friend those clients on Facebook and add their contact info to both Emma and Address book. After the wedding, there is an item on the checklist that has us update all the info for the vendors we worked the event with in Address Book as well as friend them on Facebook if we haven't already.

It's important to keep vendor/venue/planner contact info current because it helps facilitate other portions of our workflow, like efficiently delivering images to those we work with. We use the notes section in each Address Book entry to keep track of a list of which weddings we work with each vendor and planner, so that way, when they request images from us in the future (usually because they misplaced the ones we sent to them right after each wedding) we can easily compile images from all the weddings we have worked with them and send them on efficiently.

I hope you've found this post helpful! If so, I would appreciate if you'd pass it on through Facebook or Twitter using the buttons below. To purchase my Workflow Checklist or find out about more resources I offer photographers, click here!

Click here to read part 10 of the series -- Educating Clients Up Front.
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