Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is Episode 274. In today’s episode I want to talk about a topic I have touched on before, but it’s an important topic and I still get questions related to it from photography students. Today’s topic is about ways to network and give back to your local community as a photographer.
Let’s tackle networking first, there are many ways that you can network not only as a photography but as any local business owner and one of the best ways is by joining your local Chamber of Commerce. Pretty much EVERY town or city across American has a local Chamber of Commerce and they generally meet once a month and the entire purpose of this organization is so that local business owners can meet and network in their own community. You can spend a couple of hours each month “rubbing elbows” with local doctors, auto body shop owners, car repair facilities, grocery store owners or managers, barbershop or hair and nail salon owners, the list goes on and on. It is a great opportunity for these existing small business owners to get to know you and the “new kid” in town and allows you as the “new kid” the chance to meet with them, get a feel for the pulse of your local community and so on. After attending some meeting with your local Chamber of Commerce don’t be surprised if you start getting referral business.
Flea Markets or Home and Garden shows are another fantastic way to network in your local community. As my friend Levi Sim mentioned when he was on the show a while back, go to a local home and garden show or flea market and set up a portrait booth. You will more than likely have to pay, but most times the cost is minimal like around $25 and you can not only network with the people that live in your local community, but you can do free portraits. This can also help to expand your portfolio at the same time and even hone your portrait skills so this one is an idea that can tick off a few boxes on your list of accomplishments.
Local church is another great way to network with your community, especially if you are already active in a local church. Churches always have many activities going on throughout a given month and this can be another fantastic way to network with the families that live and work in your local community. If you are or want to be a wedding photographer it certainly cannot hurt to start building good relations with all of the local clergy, not just the one from your personal church. If you are Baptist, there is nothing wrong with building relations with the Methodist, Catholic or Pentecostal churches so that you can accommodate weddings at any of their local churches. You’ll often find that even in smaller towns there will be several churches.
One more good way to network that isn’t quite as local is to join LinkedIn as this website is all about business networking and getting your business out there. You can post your photography credentials and resume and network with other photographers and creatives like photo editors, graphic designers, etc and you can even list yourself as Open to Work. If you don’t already have a profile on LinkedIn, I highly recommend that you take the time to make one and get it filled out with as much detail as possible.
Giving back to your community is a great way to not only network with your local community, but also lets you show that you care about that local community. You can volunteer to be a Boy or Girl Scout leader or a Youth leader at your local church.
You can donate your time selling hotdogs at the local baseball or football game on the weekend for the high school or even Pee Wee league.
The Lions Club is another great organization that is there in most communities that gives back by holding toy and food drives on a regular basis for less fortunate families in the local community.
If you can handle it, you could also volunteer with a larger organization such as Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which specializes in taking portraits of infants that will not survive, so that their parents have at least a few cherished portraits of them to remember them by.
Another, not quite so sad organization you could volunteer your time and possibly your photography skills with is the Red Cross for local blood drives. It is good to not only donate blood, but the Red Cross often likes to have photos to use on their website of local blood drives so you might be able to donate your time for that as well.
When I lived in Georgia, I started volunteering my time as both a photographer and as an I.T. person with a local wild animal rescue called AWARE Wildlife Center and I absolutely loved the time I spent helping out that organization. They rescue, and nurse back to health local wildlife with the hopes of one day returning them back to the wild, depending on the extent of their injuries.
So, wrapping up, these are just a few of the way you can Network and give back to your local community as a photographer and local business owner. I know it’s not a super long episode, but I have our next to youngest son and daughter-in-law and their three beautiful kids staying with us as Alex has been helping us with some work around the house and getting my studio building equipped with power so I can get closer to moving my podcasting and Youtube studio out there. I still have to do insulation, interior walls and finished flooring yet, but it is slowly coming along.
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