Being a Photographer can be a lonely job, and to do well I surrounded myself with creative people and businesses. Networking was one of the biggest tools I maximised when starting my business and I still continue to network now, it's not only a fantastic way to reach new audiences in your community and gain trust but also a brilliant way to build relationships and create a database of talented businesses and creatives in your area.
I'm not a networking expert, but I do try and attend as many beneficial network events as I can. I prefer face to face networking that isn't solely focused on sales, I'm often invited to corporate networking events that come with a large invoice to become a member, personally I've found them to be very pushy and very sales focused so I tend to stay away.
Here's a few of my tips and thoughts on face to face networking:
Attend, Get out there and Introduce Yourself
Trust me, your first networking event can feel slightly strange, and this is why so many people shy away from networking. Networking is a brilliant way to introduce your business and talk about how awesome your business is. Introducing yourself in person can go a long way, be enthusiastic about your work and don't forget to ask others what they do.
Don't try and sell
I never go to networking events with the intention to sell my services, I don't want to come across as the pushy sales guy just handing out my business cards and asking for sales. I genuinely like chatting to people about photography and creative services, and don't just talk about yourself, it's good to listen and I learn so much from other people.
Make sure your body language is open and you look like you're enjoying yourself, most people who attend networking events are in the same boat as you, so approach people, spark conversations, ask them if they've been before and keep it informal.
I find face to face networking a great way to meet other creatives that I can work with and collaborate with. I try and put people first and then business second, if I can make bonds with people, keep the contact details handy, I never know when I'll be needing them.
Attend Workshops & Conference Events
Workshops are a brilliant way to brush up on your skills and meet new contacts along the way. As a Photographer there is a host of workshops I attend, anything from Marketing & Social Media, Creative Writing Courses and Photography talks. No doubt workshops and conferences will be filled with people of a similar interest and business, so get talking to people, learn new skills and talk to your competitors. I try and build up relationships with all my competitors, it's good to have people with a similar interest and skill set in your phone book and not to mention recommending other photographers to Brides & Grooms when you're fully booked.
Can you recommend a great networking group? Do you have any tips for people attending their first networking event?