The American Society of Media Photographers provides this forum to encourage the development of critical skills and to foster new ideas. Our goal is an informed and savvy professional photography community.

What is the Difference Between Online and In-Person Networking?

[by Rosh Sillars]

I’m often asked what is the difference between attending a networking event and networking using social media. The answer is not much.

Yes, it’s true. At the former, you need to dress for success; the latter can be done in your pajamas. Otherwise, it’s all about the same. Whether you are online or offline, remember to be a connector. Keep the conversation about them, not you. Be sure to follow up to keep your network strong.

The people who succeed in networking are those who build a community by connecting other people. Introduce people whom you feel will benefit from knowing each other. If a relationship develops, you might benefit, too. The more people who talk about you as someone they trust and helped to grow their business, the more success you will earn as a professional.

When networking, focus on everyone’s favorite subject: themselves. Ask questions. We all like that person who shows genuine interest in us. Be that person and you will receive the same rewards. Make sure you have your elevator pitch ready so you can share it when the time is right. Remember, the less you talk about yourself, the better the conversation seems to others.

Follow-up is the most important factor in networking. Most people don’t. To keep your network growing and strong, you must keep in touch. People are busy and don’t take the time to keep in touch. Take the initiative to call, stop by or send an email. (Emails are not as strong as the other two). It makes a big difference in strengthening your network.

Rosh Sillars is a photographer and the owner of Image 3 Marketing. Specializing in AdWords, SEO, remarketing and social media support

By Rosh Sillars | Posted: September 12th, 2014 | No comments

Building Your Network

[by Chris Winton-Stahle]

Building your network is an exercise in finding the people whom you click with. Social media has been an incredibly useful tool for me, so let’s talk about using it to build a strong and effective network. First, you will need to think about being someone that people want to connect with. It’s of vital importance to establish your online presence, and to make it genuine. This is not limited to the look of your work. Consider how you are presenting yourself to the world. Are your Facebook posts positive or negative? Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? If you have a blog, is it current and interesting?

Networking, be it locally or internationally, is all about connecting. People recognize fake, so it has to be done with honest intent. Using social media, I start by putting what I love out into the world and, at the same time, searching for those with similar interests. Using the many outlets available (Facebook, Instagram, etc), I begin to build a positive foundation upon which a friendship can grow. This includes potential consumers, directors, agencies and artists- the sky is the limit!

As much as I love to invite someone out and get to know them over a cup of coffee or lunch, I keep in mind that we are in the age of the virtually established relationships. While folks may not have room in their schedule for a meeting, they always appreciate a thoughtful email or an encouraging comment. Take a real interest in people for who they are, not just for their job title.

When reaching out, don’t just look for future clients. Some of my best friendships have been built with other photographers! I am always looking for people to collaborate with, to bounce ideas off of, and to lean on during times of struggle. It is easy to dismiss others in your field as competition, but you could be missing out on some of your strongest allies. Reach out to your industry peers- you may be surprised at how well you connect.

After establishing a presence with someone you can move communications to emails and then after some time, request a meeting. Keep it casual and quick. Don’t go in expecting them to look at your book and tell you how awesome you are. Be a fountain, not a drain- what can you offer that will help them? Research their company, their cause and, to some extent, their careers and personalities. Rather than going in with the mindset of “how can this get me to where I want to go,” approach your meetings with the intent of “How may I help you to find success with what you’re doing?”

In short, keep your motives authentic and your attitude pleasant. If you pour into your networking efforts honesty, consideration and positivity, that is just what you will receive in return!

Chris Winton-Stahle is an award-winning photographer and accomplished photo illustration artist who sees the camera as only half of his process in creating great imagery. Chris often pulls components from multiple images and CGI when creating his work for clients in advertising, magazines and entertainment.

By Chris Winton-Stahle | Posted: September 11th, 2014 | No comments
Get Connected

Listen & Learn

[by Tom Kennedy]                 

I believe any networking effort is best undertaken as an exercise in learning first about others’ needs. In order to be of value with your own work, you have to understand how your capabilities and interests might align with a need that others have in their life. Understanding that need and assessing whether you can meet it is crucial to getting business and keeping clients.   Too many make the mistake of seeing networking solely through the prism of what it can accomplish for them rather than what they can do for others.

One type of networking also involves looking for information that can be useful for skill development. That too involves learning. It pays to be curious and open-minded, but curiosity can mean different things. It can mean being curious to gain specific information to address a specific need at a particular moment for your business. It can mean being curious to acquire knowledge that can help you grow in your visual skills and business acumen. It could also mean a more generalized curiosity about learning how others think and act in relation to their own life needs. The latter can be very valuable in helping to develop a capacity for “deep listening.”   Such listening means learning to listen in a way that helps one to spot unmet needs that others may be having, but are also having trouble articulating. That is the basis for good communication and effective business development.

Networking can occur in a variety of arenas ranging from interpersonal face-to-face contact to various social media platforms that enable participation in text conversations. In my experience, it pays to listen first in either case, before jumping in to participate.  Face-to-face communication enables more immediate access the emotional temperature of others in the conversation, and reading of body language as part of the communication. That is harder to do in social network communication which is why I advocate reading and thinking about the consequence of possible responses, before leaping in.

While many social networks encourage a kind of informality and structural looseness that mimics verbal conversation, I advocate being as thorough, precise, and transparent as possible in writing responses to social network conversation. I like to offer my thoughts as helpful responses to things being discussed, but also convey the “back story” to my responses as an act of transparency that builds trust and shows my respect for others in the conversation. In other words, I want others to understand always why I am responding as I am.

I think that is a good rule of thumb for networking in verbal conversations too.

Tom Kennedy is an independent consultant coaching and mentoring individual photographers, while also working with various organizations to train individuals and teams on multimedia story creation, production, publication and distribution strategies for digital platforms, and enhancing creativity. He also regularly teaches at Universities and multimedia conferences. He has created, directed, and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, as well as EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards.  He can be reached at kennedymedia@gmail.com.

By Tom Kennedy | Posted: September 10th, 2014 | No comments

Collecting People

[by Richard Kelly]

I’m a people person. Always have been. My grandmother told me when I was “twenty-something” that she always knew I would be a portrait photographer because as a child, I always asked people what they did and why. Apparently, I even had an imaginary friend named Bob. Like many “Bob’s” in pop culture he represented everyone – he was elastic and could be anyone on a given day.

I like people and am never shy about introducing myself and asking people who they are and what they do. My wife, Jennifer, says I collect people. I do have a lot of “friends,” probably more than is realistic.  Through my process of “collecting people,” I have made some great connections and, more importantly, built interesting relationships. In my experience, the relationships are why people continue to work with me. I hope they like the work I produce and the team I bring to a project, but it is the chemistry of relationships that builds solid and continuing work.

The nice thing about Facebook and Instagram is that I get a sense of what’s going on with the “friends” I have – what they are doing, reading, thinking about and working on. Whether it’s for fun or work, I know what is happening. It is easy to assume that these online connections and status updates are a replacement for in person get togethers, but in my experience there is no such replacement – we are social creatures. Instead, I’ve found that the virtual and the real social networks complement each other. It’s like when you see good friends after a long absence and you just keep on with the same conversation like a day/month/year hasn’t gone by.

Lately, I’ve realized that rather than collecting people, I am really connecting people (which I enjoy even more). Introducing so and so to you know who, so that they aren’t just names in a Rolodex on my desk anymore but new relationships built on previous connections leading to something even better. I tell my students and assistants that the person who may help you the most in your career may be someone who you hardly know. I know this because it happens all the time to me.

Always be networking. Hey who are you and what do you do?

Richard Kelly is a photographer and educator based in Pittsburgh, he is collecting and connecting people online and in person. You can connect with him @richardkellyphoto on Instagram and https://www.facebook.com/RichardKellyPhoto

By Richard Kelly | Posted: September 9th, 2014 | 2 comments

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