When I started out, I thought photography would be quite a solitary career. I won't lie, that kind of appealed to me. Working in my own little world, the odd photoshoot where I'd just turn up and shoot, then head back to my computer, seemed great!
A lot of people, however, were concerned that I'd be working on my own most of the time and would get lonely. And yes, there are times where I'm at my computer desk, retouching a photoshoot, sending emails, writing blog posts etc... to be honest, most of a photographer's life can be sat at a computer.
But I quickly learned that, in order to further my career, I needed to get my message out there. I needed to show my wares in front of the right people and to do that, I needed to start networking.
You may have seen me mention (only once or twice!), that I'm a huge introvert. Putting myself in a room full of people I've never met before, where I know I should be introducing myself, talking about myself and basically telling people how great me and my services were was a pretty alien concept. (It still doesn't fill me with joy, shh!)
So, I thought I'd write down what I've learned since I've been networking. Here are my tips to networking if you're an introvert and how to get the most out of those meet ups.
Tip 1: Find a networking event that suits you.
There are so many kinds, there's bound to be one that feels right for you. There are the more formal, sit in a circle, stand up and introduce yourself to the class type meetings, or there are the very relaxed, mingle with a drink type events. There are women only meet ups and mixed, local or further afield, one of each profession or free for alls. Do your research, try a few out and see which one fits.
Tip 2: Get your elevator pitch down.
An elevator pitch is a short introduction to who you are and what you do. It should last about 30 seconds (the time it takes for an elevator to go 3 floors (ish)) and should be concise enough to sell yourself and intrigue whomever you're speaking to to want to know more. Writing it down can help and practice in front of the mirror, or a friend to get it rolling off your tongue. Then, when it comes to your networking event, you won't even have to think about what to say. You'll have a great introduction to answer the 'So, what do you do?' question and everything else will flow from there.
Tip 3: People love talking about themselves.
No judgement, it's just human nature. So, as well as knowing what you're going to say if someone asks what you do, be sure to ask them the same in return. Let them talk about themselves. Finding some common ground helps. For instance, bond over the fact you both have children, or find out if you both love a particular local cafe (great opportunity to ask them for a coffee outside of the event!)
Whatever they ask you, respond in kind. Smile, listen, ask follow-up questions and take their details. Or just follow them on Instagram... (who needs business cards, anyway!?)
Last but not least
Tip 4: Be brave!
Being an introvert can mean social situations can be daunting. But, put your big girl pants on and get out there! That glass of wine and snuggly blanket will wait for you at home.
Also, don't be afraid to introduce yourself to people, join other conversations and get talking to those you'd like to connect with. Sometimes you have to push your way in a little to make those connections.
Follow these tips and you'll soon be creating your own network of business connections and, more importantly, friends who will help you on your journey to world domination!
Talking to someone else who knows what it's like to run a business can be invaluable.
Do you have any other tips? Let me know!