by Raven Mathis Published 01/10/2012
1. Ask a question. The best way to jump into a forum is to ask about something you want to know. It provides a point of common interest with those who respond.
2. Comment on blogs. Who are the other local photographers you would like to get in touch with or perhaps second shoot for?
Instead of just picking up the phone and making an awkward phone call, comment when you like a photo. Be patient, networking is not an overnight thing. You are building genuine relationships, not ordering a cheeseburger.
3. Follow Facebook Fan Pages. Similar to the blogs, these are not just for clients anymore. Make a genuine comment about images that speak to you or posts you relate to. The photographer will start to put a face to a name if you do it often (and do it sincerely, don't just start tagging it up).
4. Find a local meet-up - check for local meet-ups sponsored by industry vendors or other area photographers.
Finally, my best piece of advice on why I believe so strongly in building a strong network of friends/photographers is because I have seen it directly and positively influence my own life when putting the above practices into place. Referral networks and second shooting jobs aside - networking and building genuine relationships with other photographers in my hometown market has helped me have someone to turn to for answers when I have goofed or did not know how to go about a situation.
It allows me a shoulder to lean on when clients drive me bonkers as they understand when I get blank stares from the others outside the industry.
It gives me partners-in-crime when I want to do a concept shoot or go out and scout for a new, fresh, amazing location. Likewise, when you attend big shows and conventions, you will not be staying in your room but out having fun and getting opportunities to talk with people you've only dreamed of!
Best of all, I have met some of my dearest and plan-to-be lifelong friends from networking. I can not stress enough, if you build genuine friendships with others, the rest will fall into place and before you know it, you will have your own little thriving community of photographers, referral network and amazing photos to boot that you can all be proud of.
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