Intro by Skip Cohen
I've shared this a couple of times over the years, but as things come back to a bit of normalcy, it's so appropriate today. The Texas School is about to kick off; Shutterfest is coming up, and ClickCon is in June. Along with each of these shows, we're all getting out more, and your involvement in the community should be on the rise!
My good buddy Scott Bourne wrote this many years ago. As you get back to meeting more people and building your network, make sure you're putting your best foot forward. And that includes activity in social media.
And just a reminder...Don't engage trolls. They hide behind the anonymity of their computer screens, hoping to get a reaction over things they'd never have the nerve to say to your face. When you react, you give them just what they want, and remember, there are no erasers on the Internet!
by Scott Bourne
Building a solid network is critical to your growth and the success of your business. Unfortunately, over and over again I see so many photographers making the same mistakes at every trade show, convention or workshop. Here are five of the most common ones for you to hopefully take note and stay away from.
1. Be prepared. I mean really prepared. Bring business cards (yes I know it's basic but I admit that once or twice I forgot mine so you might too.) Make sure you're properly groomed. Bugs in your teeth won't win you many friends. Dress appropriately.
2. Don't interrupt. If someone you want to meet or network with is talking with someone else, you won't make a very good impression if you bulldog your way to the front of the line. Wait your turn.
3. Don't talk too much about yourself. Don't brag. Don't profile. Don't strut. Be humble. I know it's hard to be humble when you're as great as you are, but try. Listen to what other people think. Let them finish their thoughts. Ask follow-up questions to show that you are interested and listening.
4. Don't be shy. If you want to network, you can't do it from the back of the room. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. Go for it.
5. Don't monopolize your new friends' time. Networking is simple. You introduce yourself. You listen to what your new friend has to say. You exchange cards. You figure out if there's anything you can do to help your new friend. You make an action plan to follow up with each other and you move on. Everyone at a networking event is looking for a chance to make new contacts. Let them. Take your turn and move along.
Networking can be very valuable. Skip and I have built entire businesses and careers around networking. Get off on the right foot and avoid these mistakes. You'll be better off for it.
Skip's Update: I want to add a few to Scott's list.
6. Meet every vendor you can. If you're at a live convention make it a point to meet somebody at every company, especially those whose products/services you use.
7. Have a great "leave-behind." I love an oversized postcard with a few of your images and your information on the back. This is an ideal piece for vendors - it shows your work and has your contact information. Often at a trade show, things are just too busy for a vendor to talk when they are working the booth. So having something you can leave behind and then contacting them at a later date is ideal.
8. Send a thank you note. For those vendors you meet and leave a business card or the leave-behind I referenced above, send them a note when you're back. You're not asking for anything, just thanking them for their time during a busy show.
9. Never eat a meal alone! Whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, when you're at a convention especially, invite other people to join you. There's nothing better than the conversation that comes out over just having a meal.
10. Be involved. I'm thinking about cyberspace on this one. Now and then, I run across an artist who's excited about being a member of hundreds of different forums. That means absolutely NOTHING! They've collected forums like kids used to collect Matchbox cars! Be exclusive and supportive of forums you genuinely believe in and want to support.
Your greatest marketing tool is relationship building. So to quote Scott Stratten from his book, Unmarketing, "Stop marketing and start engaging!"
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.