Networking is a very crucial form of communication if one has to grow his/her business in any field in the contemporary time. The ones who don’t network themselves always suffer and end up with the statements like, “I have no work!” or “I am talented but things aren’t clicking!” You must have heard people around you saying, “I can do anything for work, but networking and active communication is something I cannot do.” Well, you cannot grow in the field of photography until and unless you actively communicate and widen your network both in the real as well as the virtual life.
This article will be divided into three parts which are as follows:
a. Networking on Social Media
b. Networking among Family and Friends
A. Networking on Social Media
Let’s collectively agree to one thing that ours is an age of Social Media where virtual life holds as much and sometimes even more importance than the real one. Social media is the best platform a person can have to actively communicate with the people and sell his/her work. It’s like a game which you can win every day if you are smart enough. Mark my words- if you are still not trying hard to grow your network on Social Media today, then five years down the lane, when almost everybody on the planet Earth will be using it actively for almost all sorts of communication, then you will be left with no work at all! Why? Because you chose to stay away from Social Media in the first place due to silly reasons like, laziness, procrastination, lack of interest, and introversion.
Many factors come into play when you choose to sell your art on Social Media. It is a place that can make you a king in a day but can also break you in ways unfathomable in almost the same or maybe less duration of time. Things go viral on the Internet; there’s always something new that trends for sometime on applications like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. To use Social Media for your advantage, you have to be smart enough, and for that, the most important thing is to let go of your ego, and try to be as flexible and peppy in your behavior as possible. How you post your art and reply to the comments of people on it, how you give your opinions on the trending topics, how you generally interact with people- everything adds to your personality on the Internet. You might think that nobody is noticing you but people all over the world have their eyes on all your moves on Social Media. This can be intimidating at times but it’s fun as well. And if you can play along, then nobody can prevent you from becoming a successful photographer in India.
Keep this in mind- there’s risk in all the types of business, and Social Media is that field where you are trying to grow your business in photography. Therefore, you have to take the risk, you have to take the trolls and negative comments from people all over the world. You cannot prevent yourself from criticism all the time, no matter how much you try to avoid it. And that is why, all the formulae, attempts, and tactics made to avoid the attacks fail and the only method of ‘hit and trial’ works on Social Media when it comes to making yourself popular on it. I’ll tell you things in the crudest manner possible- Attention is what you must seek on Social Media if you want to grow as a photographer in India. Here are a few pointers on how you can do it:
- Post on applications like, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat as often as you can (at least 2–3 pictures daily).
- Use genuine hashtags.
- Be genuinely interested in the posts of other people. Don’t be miserly in your comments and likes. Be innovative with your compliments, and they will pay back!
- Be positive in your language.
- Use ‘stories’ feature daily. (Almost all major applications have this feature now).
- As a photographer, be artistic in whatever you post. It will look good on your feed. Plus, people will see you as a person who is passionate about his work to a great extent, and will respect you for that.
- Avoid negative people and any other kind of negativity on Social Media. Use ‘block’ and ‘mute’ option wisely.
- Do not get caught in trends which are of no use to you. You might gain a few followers temporarily but they will ‘unfollow’ you after a while when their expectations from you for posts on the similar topic won’t be met with.
- Reply everybody, even the ones who criticize you. Take criticism positively and promise them that you will improve yourself in your work.
- Offer to work for free during free hours. For instance, edit somebody’s profile picture to make it more appealing.
- Offer to meet people when you are in their city. It increases your ‘genuine’ radar.
- Do not indulge in topics that may result in the formulation of ‘bad image’ instantly or maybe later, say, after a couple of years. Avoid controversial trends on topics like politics, economy, and social justice, if you are not well versed about them.
- Be fun! Yours is the stream of photography, and so, you must show interest in fun trends on topics like movies, TV series, art, architecture, romance, spirituality, and life in general.
- Do not send random friend requests to people. Do not be a creepy person online. Once you get the ‘creepy’ tag, it becomes very difficult to clean your ‘image.’
- Do not fight people unnecessarily on social media; don’t be a keyboard warrior. Your clothes will also get dirty.
- Expose yourself as much as you can but in a positive way. Negativity sells on Social Media but positivity sells better.
- Do not avoid family members on Social Media. They are your biggest catalysts when it comes to ‘word of mouth’ networking.
- If you don’t know how to use certain Social Media platforms, Google or YouTube the same, but do not shy away from making the accounts and interacting with the people.
B. Networking among Family and Friends
As I have mentioned above, family and friends are your most active catalysts when it comes to attaining popularity and widening your network in the field of photography. They are your well-wishers and need minimum attention possible from you. There are 90% chances that the first project you acquire will happen either from your family or friends. They (read: traditional Indian families) might not initially approve of your career choice since photography is seen as a risky stream, and it is generally advisable to go for the ‘secure’ office job. But once they see your passion and considerable growth in the field, they will acknowledge your efforts and will stand by you like a wall, helping you in every way possible so that you could succeed.
Following are a few tips on how to expand your network through friendships and familial relationships:
- Click them for free. Never talk about money when it comes to click pictures of your own friends or family relations. Remember: “If you are good at something, never do it for free” is a dialogue composed by a drug addict. Work for free today if you want to get 0me 10x work tomorrow.
- Click them, and then ask them to either tag you or mention your brand name on Social Media. That’s how you start getting recognition.
- During social gatherings, parties, and family functions, let them know what you do for a living. Never shy away from dream! As passionate as you are for your work, you must always have it at the back of your mind, and you must talk about it to as many people as possible. You never know, from where the opportunity might knock at your door.
- Teach them! Teach your grandpa how to hold the phone properly for a better click. Teach your mom how to take a better ‘selfie.’ Teach your sister about ‘face light.’ Make them genuinely interested in your art. Everyone likes to learn new things if the teacher is genuinely interested in teaching them.
- Always remember: You are lucky to have a family. Make use of it.
By advertising, I mainly refer to paid networking, and this only works when you have genuine, important, interesting and classy things to show and say to the people. Otherwise it may result in a total failure on Social Media. Paid advertising on applications like, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are good to push your content among a particular kind of crowd (depending on their age, interest, taste, and preferences). But you must be sure before investing your money on paid advertisements. If you have interesting content, invest on the ads smartly and they can give you a boost in widening your network.
Three important things you should know about paid advertisements:
- You will learn about ads and crowd only when you run them. They can be run as low as 20 bucks per day. Do try them.
- Your content should be worthy of advertisement. You can’t sell trash no matter how hard you try.
- Always remember: Paid advertising is only a push and not the ultimate way.
That’s all about networking and the importance of it. Next article will be on how to get work or how to get started in the field of photography. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, you can join my Facebook group, “Grow Your Art” which is a community (in the making) of photographers, cinematographers, other artists belonging to the similar stream. This community aims at developing a healthy environment for the collective growth of individuals in this business. The artists here actively participate in the discussions, and help and guide each other to grow in the Indian market.