February 10, 2012

Hey ya'll it's Heather and I am super excited to be talking about one of my favorite things today, NETWORKING. You are about to be at one of the biggest photography events of the year so that means you are about to be meeting TONS of new people whether they be vendors, educators, or of course other photographers. I am not going to lie, the thought of thousands of photographers in one place can be extremely overwhelming and scary.  So just how do you go about networking with all of these people without feeling awkward? Well the key is to not be afraid to talk to people.Most of these people are in the exact same boat you are.
  1. Have your business cards no matter where you go, and yes I mean take them with you when you walk downstairs in your pj's to get your starbucks. There will be so many opportunities to talk to people in so many different settings. Always always always give out your business card and make sure to get people's cell phone numbers.
  2. After classes never hesitate to talk to people by introducing yourself and discussing some of the overload of information you have gotten. I even suggest going up and introducing yourself to the speakers if the setting allows it. Remember these people are photographers too.
  3. During the trade show is another great time to network. You will be visiting so many booths and meeting a lot of the people that you work with on a daily basis. Like I have said time and time before, GO INTRODUCE YOURSELF. Being a vendor myself, we absolutely LOVE meeting our customers as well as NEW customers.
  4. Oh the parties at this event are endless so there is always something to do at night. Even the shyest of you will meet people at the parties because people will come talk to you. People like me!! :) Make sure to attend the parties that are on the schedule if you can.
Networking at a convention can be one of the bests parts of your trip. Out of the tons of people you will meet, some of them will come away being your mentors and even lifelong friends. Speaking of friends, I am happy to introduce one of mine (who I met at my first WPPI ) George Varanakis. He is the Executive VP of WPPI, so I thought I would ask him a few questions to help better your experience... 1. How did you get involved with WPPI and how long have you been working with or been a part of the organization? I get this questions a lot. I've been working with WPPI for almost nine years...time flies when you're having fun! I've actually worked for WPPI two different times in my career. My first stint was when I was pretty fresh out of college, and I applied to an ad in Adweek to sell advertising for Rangefinder. I worked there for a couple years and moved on to Ziff Davis for a couple of their tech mags at the time. A few years later, my old boss had retired and they called me to take his spot. Nine years later, here I a much different role but one I really enjoy. 2. What do you think is the best way to manage our time between the trade show, classes and parties? Whatever you do, don't "wing it". In other words, have a plan going into WPPI. Pre-board for your must see classes. Take the time to check out the trade show area and see what products you can use to help your business. Look and see what companies are at the show and which ones you need to see. Don't just walk around aimlessly. You're just going to waste time. As far as the parties go, check out the Events Page to see what's going on - . Food is served at all of the WPPI/Sponsored Parties, plus there's DJ's, bands and all kinds of fun surprises. 3. Any advice to those who are first timers on the most effective way to network with other photographers, teachers, and vendors? You're probably a little nervous going to a show like WPPI for the first time. The best advice I can give is go in with an open mind. You're going to learn so much in the week you're there that it can be overwhelming. Take notes in class, ask questions in the sessions. Stay after and meet the teachers, go on WPPI's Facebook Page and set up meetings with other photographers. Everyone was a newbie at one point so they know the feeling. Hit all the parties and mingle. The networking part of WPPI is one of the best things you will get out of it. You're going to have a lot more friends leaving than you did when you arrived. I guarantee it. 4. What is your favorite part of WPPI and can you leave us with one piece of advice you would give to everyone who is attending? My favorite part of WPPI? When it's over! I'm kidding. My favorite part is the WPPI Awards Night, the last night of the show. It's so inspiring to see all the amazing work our attendees put out through the print competition. I love seeing the faces of the people when they win. It's the best feeling. My best advice for WPPI attendees - HAVE FUN. This isn't a dentist convention, it's WPPI, where the most creative people in the world come together for a week to share ideas, learn from the best in the business, meet fellow photographers that have the same passion, all while having a blast in Las Vegas. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.  

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