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Networking is one of the most important things you can do for the success of your business as a photographer. The perks of a successful network range from learning from your peers, gaining referrals, collaborating to build portfolios, and even getting discounts on new gear. While networking may be one of the best things for your business, it isn’t always easy getting started. Let’s discuss some basic tips for successfully building your professional network.
Simply put, as a photographer you are your brand. And while you are selling your work, ultimately you are selling yourself. People want to work with awesome people – and networking is the best way to truly show off who you are and what you’re about in the most cost-effective way possible. Beyond that, networking gives you the opportunity to learn from each other. Whether you’re tipped off about a new gadget, or need advice about how to handle a certain situation with a client, exchanging ideas and information with people that do the same thing you do every day is extremely beneficial. Plus, not only can other photographers end up being a referral source, but working together truly does raise the bar for the photography industry as a whole.
Go to seminars, conventions, and workshops. There is no better way to network than to physically be in a place surrounded by other photographers all learning together. Make sure to bring plenty of business cards and follow-up with those that you connected with afterward. Maybe call and invite them to grab a coffee, lunch, or drinks, or send them a handwritten note letting them know you enjoyed meeting them. Putting in the time and effort up front to develop these new relationships will pay off in spades later.
Perhaps the easiest and least-intimidating step of networking is connecting on social media. Figure out the photographers that you specifically want to target and start visiting and liking their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc, – but be genuine about it. Remember that you are working to build a meaningful relationship that will be mutually beneficial, and simply throwing a bunch of “likes” and comments on their content will probably not get you the outcome you are hoping for. Show that you can provide value and meaningful contribution and above all – showcase your personality!
Join online forums, groups, and discussions. Not only is this a great opportunity to learn, but you will have the ability to provide advice and knowledge on different topics. Bonus tip: many forums allow you to have a link in your signature, so make sure to take advantage of this and link back to your website or portfolio.
Networking events can be tougher to find depending on where you live or if you are new to the industry, but here are some good first places to start:
Much like a gym membership, when it comes to networking the best thing to remember is that you get out of it what you put into it. The more time you spend cultivating real relationships with people, the easier it will be to make new contacts and build your business.
Check out some more great resources on networking: