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We talked about it from a social point of view, but realize, a lot of times the people socializing with you are clients. There are some real business applications here. Don't go out and engage all of your clients on Facebook, but the ones you get along with, the ones that you like working with, or maybe some of your peers that you collaborate with on projects, those are great folks to connect to. It might mean more than one Facebook account. For example, I have an account that's purely personal. People I went to college with, my relatives.
I've another account that I interact with my best clients. Now for me, I always keep that below 600 people. You don't have to follow that rule, but I feel that it's not about having the most number of friends; it's about having the people you most actively engage with. I like to keep that number manageable and make sure that I actually see what other people are posting. This has been a great chance to get to know other people more and for them to get to know me and that definitely leads to referrals and new opportunities.
Lots of people have profiles on social networking sites. Again, depending who you talk to, the number varies between 56 and about 65%. But we've seen continuous growth from year to year. And this is also true in the younger age groups. Now if you're looking to get hired, chances are the decision makers are going to be in the 25-55 year-old range and those are pretty good odds. Let's say you're working with a public relations firm. A lot of times it's the younger folks in the office bringing in the research.
They are the ones out there looking for the photographer to hire or the new video person to direct the feature. They want new commercial made, well, they start looking for whose stuff is hot, what their friends are talking about, what they come across when they do research. This then gets passed up to others in the office. Now this pattern repeats itself across all industries and all segments. You need to realize that it's often the younger folks that do the ground work and find the potential leads, find the folks that might get hired.
So if 80% of those people are on social networks, shouldn't you be? Another thing that's really becoming active is communities online. Google+ just added communities and this is a great way to interact with others. Maybe you need to find crew, maybe you're looking for an opportunity to connect with someone more experienced. These communities work really well, and we're also seeing communities around ideas to help you do more with business. Sites like 500px can serve as a great way to get feedback on your work.
Before you rush out and print a bunch of pictures for sale, maybe put them out there virtually. In fact, 500px even offers digital sales and canvas prints. This is a new marketplace for people who love photography to browse, get inspired, and even buy the work that they like. And sites like Vimeo are becoming increasingly popular. This is because they make it easy for you to share your work in high quality HD video, and in fact, you can even assemble custom galleries to share with prospective clients.
I love how easy it is to get my work gathered together to respond to a client request. These days people are more likely to look at a custom link that you post, than your corporate website. Putting up a gallery of specific works that match their needs or their interest will be more likely to be viewed than simply sending them to your website. Now a website is important, but having galleries, things on photo sites and video sites mean that people can not only discover your work, but easily share it with others and this is a key to success.
Also, taking the time to run a blog is going to give you opportunity. Sharing your information, things you discover, I regularly contribute to a site called photofocus and it gets a lot of readership and opens up a lot of doors for new opportunities. Same thing, I put tips up to TipSquirrel. It's a site all about Photoshop and here's a whole community of other bloggers who share. Taking the time to be a contributor to a blog, maybe a group blog or community site, means that you'll be respected by your peers, means that they'll be giving you references.
I have lots of referrals that come from people that respect me and I try to return the favor. Taking the time to publish means that you're a thought leader and when it comes to the end of the day, people want to work with people they like and respect. Being published helps. So find a blog or community website for your interest and get your work out there.
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