I built my company on networking. In the early days, I went to events every week to share the good news about my great photography business. After I established my business, hired representatives, and settled down with my family, I scaled back my networking.
Finding a good networking event to attend is a challenge. Local chambers of commerce, trade associations, and business groups are good starting points. Social media has spawned an entirely new, diverse and extremely effective networking phenomenon.
Tweetups are very cool if you are a nerd like me. If you are a photographer, you need to know that Web designers, small business owners, ad people, and marketers make up a good percentage of attendees at these events. This is the commercial photographers’ target market.
Who knows how long Tweetups will be popular. I suspect they are a short-lived fad. But, for now, photographers and other creative people have an excellent window of opportunity to meet people who have been unavailable or out of circulation. The great thing about Tweetups is if you travel, you can find one just about anywhere around the country. A few weeks ago, Chris Brogan was in metro Detroit and came to a local Tweetup. You never know who will be at one.
Web sites like Meetup.com allow you to find groups with similar interests. For example, this week I’m attending WordPress, SEO (search engine optimization), and business consultants events in my area. These sites offer much more than entertainment for the local geek. They offer a diverse list of options such as singles, food and fitness groups.
Local community online groups also have been effective ways to find networking events. Motor City Connect in Michigan is a popular choice. Local photographers, influenced by Strobist (among others) meet regularly for photo walks. You also can find more groups through the Ning network of communities.
Camp conferences such as PodCamp, WordCamp, and Brand Camp also are effective, low-cost educational and networking opportunities.
Big events have been suffering, but the growing interest in social media has people talking and wanting to learn more. This is a great time to test your narrative networking skills, earn new clients and make new friends.
What sites and communities would you recommend?