In the first part of this post series we talked about the community in terms of your clients and/or potential clients pool. In this section we’ll talk about your peers, your support group and your team.
First up are your peers, or, if you choose, your competition (although thinking in these terms is not the best way to view this part of your community). While it’s true you may be competing with this group for potential work, I like to think of this group as a pool of like-minded folks that can actually help one another by sharing information. What you share is up to you, and should seem obvious. For those who belong to a professional association such as the ASMP, APA or PPofA, you may be aware of the kind of things that are shared in this type of forum. The majority of these discussions focus on pricing and following the group’s guidelines in all of your business practices.
You have the opportunity to go beyond sharing basic info in forums. My peers include many of my best friends and mentors, people I turn to for help with most any of my questions. We’re in the same boat, and I know they have the success and advancement of our profession in the forefront of their thoughts. While it is true that we are in competition to a degree, we also trust each other. We share tricks and tips, info on the latest gear, war stories, insights into clients we work with, and lists of who (and who not) to hire.
Next up is the support group. Depending on your chosen discipline in photography, this may include many other professions that are a part of this community. For example, a wedding photographer’s support group may include wedding planners, caterers, bakers, florists and local music professionals. These are the folks you need to know, and they can help you just as you can them. Attending wedding shows (possibly even renting a booth) is a good way to get involved in this specific group and will help you build your network. For those who work in the studio as I do, your players might include rental houses, model agencies, video editing professionals, set builders, and, to a lesser degree, long-term clients. All of these folks can be of enormous help as you build this section of your personal community.
Last and by no means least is your team. This includes assistants, stylists (food, prop, wardrobe and makeup), and location scouts. All of these professionals are key players in successful productions. As you can see, developing this section of your community is very important and will require you to do a bit of research and time spent working with each to find the production team members that fit you. In some cases these may become employees of your business as you grow.
Each and every person you include into these parts of your community will be key and should grow as you do. The most important thing to take away from this discussion is that you need to network. You need to get out from behind the camera and build your community in all of its aspects. You will set yourself up to succeed and find opportunities that you wouldn’t have without the support of the community you surround yourself with.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and views on this, as well as your ideas on future discussions.