A few weeks ago, thanks to Excire, we expanded the menu in the SCU diner offering full entrees, posts with more details and content to help you build a stronger business. Today's special is a perfect example.
With the Photo Plus Expo show coming up in two weeks in NYC, now's the time for you to make sure you plan your trip BEFORE you get there. Plus, IUSA, WPPI, and ShutterFest all come along during the first few months of the new year.
Time is your most valuable commodity. If you plan each trip you'll not only spend your money wiser, but you'll come home energized, better prepared to take on the challenges of being a photographer and business owner.
Getting Maximum Bang for Your Buck at EVERY Convention
- Networking - a convention is an opportunity for you to network, but not just with other photographers, but the staff at EVERY vendor whose products and services you use.
- Education - photography is a career choice where you have to keep learning - your education is critical, and a good convention offers you a great selection of programming.
- New Products - This is especially important this year. Remember, 2018 was a Photokina year, and many of the major manufacturers introduced new products just a month ago in Germany.
- Recharging your battery - A good convention is a chance to energize your ideas about photography, marketing, and business. With a new year on the horizon, you've got to feed your heart and get time with old and new friends. You need to celebrate and appreciate the career path you're on, regardless of how long you've been on the "journey."
So, let's get specific and come up with things to think about and do while you're at the next convention:
- Why are you going? I know that sounds incredibly basic, but some of you go to party, others to buy and more of you to learn and network. Figure out what the most important thing is you want to get out of each show before you get there.
- Who are the companies whose products/services you use? Take a few minutes and look around your office, studio or the trunk of your car. Isolate every product you use as a photographer, and put the manufacturer's name on a list. Now, look at every company whose services you use. Your lab, frame company, web design, album company, etc. should all be on the list. Your first goal BEFORE you get to the show is to isolate every company that's involved in your business.
- What products/services do you need? Last on the pre-show list, are there products you need for your business or new services you require? One year at WPPI many years ago, 45 album companies were exhibiting and probably 25-30 labs. If you're looking for new companies and products, this is the time to go exploring.
- Now hit the convention/conference's website! Get to know who's going to be at the show from your vendor/supplier lists. Your goal is to meet at least one staff member at every company on the list. This is a critical component in building an effective network.
- How's your credit line? Whether you're in a buying mode or not, take the time to establish a credit line with any of the major financing companies. Or, at the very least check the balance on all your credit cards. If you see something you want to purchase at the convention, it's a lot less stressful if you already know what you've got to spend.
- Print Judging: If you're in early enough and the convention offers print judging open to the public, make it a point to attend. It's one of the most valuable educational experiences you can have.
- Walk through the print exhibit. This is a terrific time to get a feel for the trends in imaging because you'll see just about everything in the images being shared and you'll also "meet" artists who you might not have heard of.
- Don't be a storm-trooper! Start in one corner of the convention and walk every aisle. You'll have a chance to meet more people, see more products and learn about concepts you might not realize were in the market.
- Wear comfortable shoes and stay hydrated. You're going to be on your feet all day - respect the importance of staying on the top of your game.
- Bring business cards and some images. Personally, I've always liked being shown a 5x7 or 6x9 collage with 2-3 images with the photographer's address and contact information. Unless you've made an appointment in advance, most exhibitors don't have the time to look at a portfolio, or an iPad chocked full of images. However, leaving a cardstock piece or brochure with a vendor and contacting them after the show can be very effective.
- Make plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings NOW. Reservations don't come easy in any convention city. Even if you don't know who might join you, have a couple of dinner reservations regardless.
- Pay attention to those key vendors who you want to see and what's going on in their booth. Many of the exhibitors have guest speakers sharing great information in smaller more intimate venues, right on the trade show floor.
- You snooze you lose! Look I was young and stupid once too, and there are few things as fun as going out with friends and bar-hopping at a convention. However, you're at the show for a reason. If you need to sleep in late the following morning, your evening out with friends might become the most expensive investment you make in the show if you miss appointments or presentations you had planned to attend.
- Look over the programming. Plan which speakers you want to hear in advance. Plus, always pick at least 1-2 programs completely separate from your core specialty. Your growth as an artist and business owner will always be with presentations outside your comfort zone.
- Bring a camera...a real camera. Sure phones are fine, but you want to get some images you might want to use later on for press releases, your blog, Facebook, etc. You don't need your regular gear, but a decent camera will always produce better images than your cell phone. Look for opportunities for pictures with vendors and those speakers you admire. Your goal is to build a stash of photographs of you at the show for use in PR releases and blog content later on.
- Talk to the people around you when you attend any program. A photography convention is unique because you're all there for the same reasons. Make it a point to get to know the people sitting on either side of you. It's amazing what you can learn by just talking to each other.
- Talk to the icons! I'm always amazed by how many of you are intimidated by your favorite photographers. The truth is they're there to teach and meet other photographers interested in their work. Just walk up and introduce yourself and thank them for whatever inspiration they've given you. Honestly, they don't bite, but be respectful and don't charge into a conversation when you see them already occupied - just wait your turn!
The one thing I find most frustrating with attendees at a big convention is they just haven't planned their trip. They got their tickets and made it to the show and then completely fall apart. Plan each convention experience so that you're not wasting time and even more important, your money!
Check out the special promotion launched on September 26 at Photokina - "Search" is just $49 and "Search Pro" is $99.