This post is by Anna-Maria Pfab, MA Photography Lecturer at Falmouth Flexible.
Networking – a topic inspiring fear, confusion, dread, and apathy. You will often hear that it is crucial for photographers to network – but networking can feel like a fool’s game at times.
Particularly for students, or those who are just starting out, there is little advice about what to do and what not to do. Whilst obviously there isn’t a set way to go about this, here are a few tips on how to increase your photography industry network!
1. Lose your fear
Meeting new people can be scary – especially for those of us who are a little more introvert. And as unappealing as networking can seem the benefits always outweigh the fears. Just think about it this way: what is 10 minutes of feeling incredibly uncomfortable compared to a lifetime of professional success?
Before you reach out to people it’s always a good idea to sit down and think about your goals for the meeting. How can those individuals help you advance your photography career? Focus on how these connections can benefit you in the long run.
2. A solid online presence
I can’t stress enough how important an attractive image across the web is for photographers – especially photographers, actually! Before you start any networking efforts, make sure that your website comes across as professional and stylish. Ideally, every person you talk to will end up visiting your website so make sure it truly reflects who you are.
Also link to all your social media accounts so visitors can also have a look at those!
3. Have an action plan
To make networking a little less daunting it can be a good idea to create an action plan – I find that every big achievement appears much more attainable when broken down into smaller steps. You are attending an exhibition opening? Create an action plan beforehand – this will make it easier for you to meet your goals. For example, come up with a minimum number of people you want to have a conversion with.
4. Find RELEVANT networking events
No one wants to waste time. Learn enough about the event you are planning to attend before you RSVP or head out of the door. It’s important that the events you are attending are relevant – if you are a sports photographer you will probably not be very successful at an event for wildlife photography.
5. Be approachable
I know this sounds silly – but how you present yourself to the world plays a major role not only in how people perceive you but also in how we feel. Make sure you feel comfortable and professional, carry yourself around confidently whilst still approachable. Have a genuine smile ready for whenever someone sparks a conversation with you!
6. Genuine connections
Don’t see networking as a means to getting an assignment or work published right now. Contrary to how it may seem, networking is a chance to connect with people rather than selling your latest project or idea. Focus on actually getting to know other industry professionals and building long-lasting, genuine connections.
The Falmouth Flexible MA Photography will equip you with the knowledge, understanding and skills to meaningfully engage with a technologically and socially evolving medium, and succeed within the increasingly complex and competitive creative industries.
You can start in January, May or September - contact us for all the details on making an application.