Editors Note: If you’re thinking about attending Photoshop World, today is the last day to get the early bird rate of $200 off. If you’ve been sitting on the fence, check out the registration page now.

This Photoshop World will mark my 30th event Ive attended in the past 15 years.In that time, Ive transformed from a beginner into an instructor. Youre probably wondering, why are you still attending if you know this stuff. Its simple, I get to network and build connections with others…not just other instructors but attendees as well.

First time attendee

I learned more in 3 days than I did in 7 self taught years after I attended my first Photoshop World. I mapped out which classes I wanted to take and questions I had for the instructor. At the end of each class I approached the instructor with a smile and asked my questions. I kept my mouth shut and my ears opened as I took lots of notes.I also stuck around and listen to the instructor answer questions from other attendees. Afterwards, I would talk to the other attendees that stayed. A bond was formed and we would meet up during breaks for lunch or dinner and we would talk about what we learned. Ive build a wealth of connections and lifelong friendships.

I know this stuff what should I do?

As the years past, my knowledge grew as the tips at Photoshop World became fewer. Still excited, I attended each class. Instead of learning how to tips, I developed a better understanding of workflow and concepts. After hours parties and events like Midnight Madness became a casual meeting ground with instructors and well knowledgeable attendees. We had fun as we talked shop. Stronger connections were formed.

How to follow up

During Photoshop World, I would exchange contact information with my new friends. Before the social media boom, I would send an email or a quick text message to make sure the contact information was correct. Cultivating connections became easy once Facebook, Instagram and Twitter entered the scene. My new friends and I would tag each other in photos or tweets. Having a photo to go with a name made staying in touch after Photoshop World easy.

On the plane ride home, I would flip through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to review the connections I just made. Some connections were business, others were friendships but most were both. If I wasn’t too tired, I would send a quick note reminding my new friends they can contact me any time. If I didn’t have time to send a quick note, I would wait a few days and send one. This gave them time to adjust from being away for a week.

Organize your new connections

I use Google to organize my email and contacts. When I receive an email from a new connection, I label the connection Photoshop World and add notes to their contact information. Adding them on Facebook or Google Plus makes it easier to keep each other up to date.

How this has helped me

Other than making new friends, the connections I’ve developed over the years has helped me professionally. You are reading this article is a prime example. I met Richard Harrington, publisher of Photofocus, many years ago at Photoshop World. We became great friends and have watched each other develop over the years. When Rich asked me to write for Photofocus, I was honored not only as a friend, but as a colleague.

Ross Bushong was one of my first conections at Photoshop World almost 15 years ago. Other than becoming great friends and going on family vacations, we’ve worked on several projects together. He was instrumental in helping me land a web developing job with his former company.

I have hundreds of connection stories I could share and they all include, “we became friends”. The key to building these connections is simple, be real.

Ten things to bring or do at Photoshop World

  • Write at least 10 questions you want answered at Photoshop World.
  • Have a digital portfolio of your work.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to instructors or attendees.
  • Bring a friend or a coworker.
  • Take photos with your new friends and tag them on Social Media sites.
  • Follow up after Photoshop World.
  • Attend After Hour Parties, Meetups and Midnight Madness.
  • Go to lunch or dinner with your new friends.
  • Have an open mind to learn and make friends.
  • Take lots of notes.