112 - Getting the most out of a conference with Skip Cohen
Before you pack your bags and take off for the next photography conference, how do you make sure that the experience will be productive?
Many photographers arrive at the latest trade show with lots of excitement and then get completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people and information.
Skip Cohen has participated in conferences as an organizer, vendor, speaker, and attendee. He shares his tips on how photographers can get the most out of your next meeting or event.
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You have to know why you are going. What do you hope to gain?
You have to know who is there to make sure you maximize your time. If you are going to be away for two days, you have to make sure you have the value for being away for two days.
Networking - You’re meeting people. Try adding people to your network who complements your weak spots. You want to have one contact at every one of your vendors. You want one contact with each company.
Plan your meals. You should never eat alone. Plan your breakfast, lunch, and dinner with someone new. A meal is a disarming event for a person. You get to learn much more about them during a meal.
Talk to the icons. People are often afraid to talk to photographers like Roberto Valenzuela or Jerry Ghionis. What people don’t realize is how much all the speakers are approachable. Now you’ve made the first step of bringing them into your network.
Take paper handouts and giveaways. Take an oversized postcard with three to five images and your contact information. Once I have the postcard, I can look at it later when I have the time. When you’re in the middle of a conference, having a good, strong leave behind is the ideal way to get someone to remember you. Follow up with a handwritten note. Email doesn’t carry the same sincerity as a handwritten note.
At the end of each day, take 10 minutes and go through your notes for the day. That helps you analyze how well you’ve done during the day and who you met.
Growth only happens outside of your comfort zone. Try to take at least one class outside your comfort zone.
Wear comfortable shoes and get business cards.
Make sure you are adequately insured. Stuff can walk away. At every show, it always happens to somebody.
If you are going to a conference and you are in buying mode, get a credit rating for a lease. By leasing, you aren’t tying up your cash flow.
Skip Cohen has been in the photographic industry his entire adult life, or at least the time he was supposed to act like an adult!
He's President and founder of SCU, founder of Marketing Essentials International and past president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. He's been an active participant in the professional side of photography since joining Hasselblad USA in 1987 as president. He has co-authored six books on photography and actively supports dozens of projects each year involving photographic education.
In addition to his daily blog posts here at SCU he's a regular contributor to Shutter Magazine and is a speaker at a variety of conferences/conventions around the country including WPPI, ShutterFest and Clickcon.