Do you know what I love? Photography conferences. They are the best place to meet like-minded people and make new friends. The best thing I’ve done for my photography business has been learning to network, and it’s so easy to practice with people who are passionate about the same thing I am.
I’m really looking forward to the trade shows and conferences coming up in the new year, like Imaging USA and WPPI, where I’ll not only meet new people, but I’ll also meet up with my pals from around the world. It’s awesome, and I’ll do everything I can to reaffirm relationships with people and companies.
But do you know what I won’t do? I won’t ask any of my industry friends to “like” my Facebook page, and I won’t give them my best business cards.
Photographers Cost Me Money on Facebook
Facebook can be beneficial for small businesses. Most photographers I know have a business page on Facebook–which is good since clients probably hang out on Facebook– and most have invited me to “like” it. I understand this–I want my photography peers to see my work, too, and my Facebook page might be a good place to share my latest work. But it costs me money to have photographers “like” my page.
Facebook is paid for by advertisers, and one catch is that only a certain percentage of your business page audience will see a post unless you pay for promotion–I think it’s as little as 6% will even see it in their timelines. If you’re paying for exposure, you want results by reaching your clients (you know, those people who will give you money to do your work). Chances are, photographers aren’t your potential clients, but they are a part of the impressions you paid to make. I recommend getting a better return on that money by focussing on having potential clients like your page, not other photographers.
Facebook doesn’t distinguish who your post will reach: impressions are impressions. I love to have kudos from my industry friends, but I’m not willing to pay for that privilege, and I don’t think you should, either.
Fancy (Expensive) Business Cards Are for Clients
I bet you can guess where I’m going with this. I think you should hand out millions of business cards, and get your work in front of as many people as politely possible. I say politely because if I meet you at a conference I’m interested in getting to know you, and while I’m happy to see your work, I don’t want you to treat me like a lead. I want you to treat me like a peer, and I like to stay in touch with my peers. But please don’t shove your work in my face, and I promise I’ll be gentle about showing you my work, except where pictures of my daughter are concerned.
There are terrific printers out there who make cards that feel great and look wonderful (moo.com comes to mind). I even saw card from Tim Wallace that was laser-cut metal with the grill of a car showing–incredible! These cards are a powerful way to communicate your services to your clients, and I recommend something like them. But they are costly.
Give those costly cards to the people who will give you a return on the investment: potential clients. When you meet me at the show, I’ll give you my cheap card with contact information which cost me just a few cents each, as opposed to a few dollars each for the metal laser-cut cards.
So who do I give the good stuff to at tradeshows? Well, I’m a photographer, writer, and educator, so I also want to network with photography industry people who I can help with their business and who may be able to help me. I like to use the tip from Skip Cohen and Scott Bourne of using my last promotional card as a leave behind. This shows vendors that I’m actively pursuing business in my market and it gives a sample of my work, and it’s likely more memorable than a plain business card. Another great idea is showing a vendor how you’ve used their product in your work–Skip and Scott became acquainted when Skip was President of Hasselblad USA and Scott brought samples of panoramic pictures he’d made with Hasselblad’s panoramic camera to a trade show and left them with Skip, which led to licensing the photos. I’ve never heard Scott talk about another photographer hiring him because he gave out his business card.
To sum up, if you want to spend money on a photographer, treat her to lunch, but don’t waste your money showing her your holiday portrait special on your Facebook page, and don’t use your expensive promotional materials on other photographers who simply are not your clients. Get out there and network with photographers, and get your work in front of potential clients.
I’ll see you on Instagram and at the next trade show.
This post is expanded from a post I did for Skip Cohen University.