Networking is an essential skill to cultivate as a creative. It applies whether you’re a full time freelancer or someone like myself who currently maintains a day job and side hustles with photography. Nothing beats meeting people face to face regardless of how many DM outreaches you get.
What immediately comes to mind when you think of networking is that mentality of chasing leads to secure the next big job but what I’m referring to in this case is the ability to sustain relationships with like-minded creatives who broaden our perspective in our craft, the industry and life.
Back when Instagram meetups were a thing, I easily found myself in multiple coffee shops a month meeting local New York photographers who I had befriended via Instagram. Depending on location and time, a few photo walks and portraits would result from the meet but ultimately the focus was upon genuine conversations on projects one or the other may be working on. Nowadays, at least for me all of that is non-existent. As the saying goes, “it takes 2 to tango” and I’ve certainly haven’t done my part to maintain potential fading relationships afloat.
Life will always happen, we’ll always have obligations, work and family will forever keep us occupied, so at some point that justification can only take us so far until we make the time for what we value important.
Back then I cared a lot about who I met up with. Perhaps too much where an entire day or week would transpire and my attention was too focused on who I could potentially meet as oppose to what I can create with that same time. Ultimately I stopped caring and it was in that very instance where I feel I found myself creatively.
Instead of reaching out to photographers to meet, I began reaching out to people who were influential within their industry such fitness or in the arts; all in areas that interest me. Developing relationships with these individuals is where I found myself to be alive with my camera because not only was I brewing conversations the same way I always admired Anthony Bourdain did but I was simultaneously creating work that enabled me to exercise my photography skills. It was and continues to be a win, win situation!
I’m not insinuating it’s no longer worth it for me to meet fellow photographers because I do miss it but it’s certainly no longer an obsession of mine because just like I may always be busy, I'm sure I’m not the only one who constantly weights their options in terms of how to spend the little time we all have. Something always has to be sacrificed.