Networking events are part of the whole body of the photography industry no matter what part of it you happen to be in. They’re essential when it comes to building your business, building your name, and even just to keep the door open to possibly working with folks in the future. It’s also no secret the industry is more often than not about who you know more than what you know. So if you’re looking to network with other photographers, editors, Instagramers, gallery curators, wedding planners, etc. then read on for a few tips.
Approach Groups and Cliques
Fact of life: folks tend to go to things with groups of friends. This is partially because they feel familiar and are sometimes scared to talk to others. However, in the case where they’re experienced networkers, they probably just haven’t met anyone that they want to talk to. Still, having the courage to approach an entire group can work out well for you.
There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Hi, I’m blank and I just want to network with new people.” From there, things will either work out or not.
Don’t Be a Jerk; and Don’t Lie to People
Networking and business relationships are often a long term thing. So with that said, always be polite to other people or it can otherwise circulate quietly how much of a jerk you can be. On top of that, don’t lie to people. In the age of the internet, it rarely works out and if you violate someone’s trust early on then you will probably do so again and again.
I like to think about networking as creating symbiotic relationships.
Mind Your Alcohol Intake
Networking events often have booze. It helps with the ice breakers and they tend to also relax folks. Personally, I try not to drink a whole lot even near to what I know my limit is. I also work off the rule of stuffing my face to delay the effects and having one glass of water with every alcoholic drink.
Be a Professional Human Being
In the photography world, networking events tend to be a bit more casual, though still business oriented. So with that said, be professional but keep in mind an after-hours mentality.
Breeze by Small Talk and Get Conversations Going
Normal small talk is when you ask someone how their day is. But this time around, you’re just talking to people to figure out who they are. Have a few ideas of something major in the photo world to talk about. Don’t make it gossip per se, but something you’re passionate about.
Bring Business Cards
This sort of should go without saying, but bring business cards. And when you do so, make them interesting. Every working creative has interesting business cards.
Don’t Talk About Gear Unless You Have To
Do I really need to go deeper into this one?
Have Something About the Work That You’re Doing to Talk About
This requires having an Instagram, website, facebook page, etc in addition to genuine ideas about projects and more that you’re working on. You know, serious stuff with regards to photography.