Nicky West shares why she loves networking and her business journey
What made you set up Nicky West Photography Company?
I took a career break to start my family and began to help my husband grow his business. He is a renowned food photographer which means that I am surrounded by the photography industry at home. I increasingly enjoyed assisting him, but my real passion has always been photographing people. I found myself being asked more and more to take photographs at friends’ weddings and of their children. Eventually I decided to take a degree in fine art photography and proudly graduated five years later. At the same time, I began building up the freelance photography business I now run full time. For me it’s the perfect career, combining creativity with people.
How many years have you been in business?
I have been a photographer for over 10 years, I spent 3 years focusing on my husbands business and 2 years assisting another wedding photographer before setting up my own business. I then decided to go back into education and studied a fine art photography degree at Suffolk University for over 5 years. I graduated last year and relaunched my business in January 2018 to focus on Commercial photography. I have also carried on working for my husbands business.
What do you love most about running your own business?
I love meeting new people, coming up with ideas and being creative. I like to build working relationships, knowledge share and get to know my working community. Having a professional headshot is so important for LinkedIn, Facebook and social media. It’s my ambition to get as many businesses possible, connected and thriving in our local community and I’d like to think that my images and networking events offered a helping hand in achieving this.
What do you hate most about running your own business?
I don’t hate anything in particular but I know where my strengths are and my limits! So I always use an accountant and where possible I get someone to check my content if I’m writing a blog or something for my website.
What benefits do you get from networking?
You find out what’s happening in your area, get to know people where you live, find useful things out that you wouldn’t normally know about, showcase your business, give and receive the personal touch we can’t get online. Learn from others – Share your knowledge – Listen to great speakers – build friendships.
What was the reason that you decided to be a member at The BWN?
I come from a networking background – Before Children, my career was in London working for Bluechip companies including Bankers Trust, Accenture & WorldCom. I was responsible for the graduate programmes within the business. My responsibility was designing and delivering some of the graduate training and making sure they were integrated into the business and their teams as quickly as possible. When I was at Accenture there were over 40 graduates joining every fortnight, so making sure they got to know the business was crucial.
I made sure they were introduced to the key players of the business, received a week long induction with guest speakers at every event, giving informative and important information to the graduates. I worked hard to ensure the graduates met as many business partners as possible so they could begin to build their contact list of mentors and experts in their chosen field. I quickly learned that if a graduate was to survive in such a big organisation they needed to know the right people.
This is just as important for small businesses and local companies. In order for our survival, we need to have a strong network of businesses around us to call on for support, advice & build our client base.
It strengthens our reputation and brand and gives people the opportunity to get to know you as a real person behind the business. Having human connection will always be an important part of building your business and networking is a fantastic way to achieve this!
What do you see the future holding for Nicky West Photography?
I’m building a business that offers more than photography, It offers an photographic image consultancy. This means, looking at your images across your website, social media framework and publications and making sure they communicate your brand and ethos. When a client enters your Instagram, website or LinkedIn account, your images need to be instantly recognisable as your company. I would like to work with businesses and offer an ongoing imaging service using a methodology that will help to create meaningful professional pictures. Photographing images that will complement and add value to your blogging, Facebook & LinkedIn content. And build a stock library of images for businesses who need a high volume of pictures for Instagram and Pinterest. I also offer a Headshot & business lifestyle photography shoot that focuses on making sure you and your employees connect with your audience, look professional, represent your brand and come across as trust worthy and approachable.