My family loves to travel. We make every effort to experience multiple cultures, geographies, peoples, places as frequently as possible. In fact, in the past 12 months alone, we’ve explored parts of California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri and, the pièce de résistance, the Galapagos Islands; in a few weeks’ time, we are headed to China. And, though I’m no artist, I quite love photography and one of my greatest joys is to capture our experiences through pictures.
In anticipation of one such trip, I participated in a photography webinar hosted by National Geographic. The session featured renowned photographer, Ralph Lee Hopkins, Director of Expedition Photography for National Geographic. He covered topics that, indeed, are important for taking great pictures – I couldn’t help but find clear application for many of his tips to networking, too.
- Use the camera that’s right for you. “What camera you use doesn’t matter. You don’t need the big guns. It’s not the camera that takes or makes the picture.” Whatever device you have available, you will capture the images that are meaningful to you.
- Storing your photos. For purposes of his webinar, Mr. Hopkins, of course, was referring to memory cards, computers, etc. For networking purposes, however, be your own memory card! Gather business cards, take notes, using whatever tools you need to remember who you met, what you discussed, how you will follow up, etc. There are many ways to store this information – apps like Evernote and Google Keep, LinkedIn’s CardMunch, CRM programs like 37 Signal’s Highrise, Microsoft Dynamics; even a good old fashioned Excel spreadsheet or a simple notebook in which you keep important information.
- What to pack. When you engage in networking, be sure to bring your curiosity, your stories, your joie de vivre! Bring along information, experiences and other resources – the “stuff” that can be really valuable to others, even if it costs nothing to us.
- Practice, practice, practice. Indeed, practice does make perfect! Whether in photography or in networking, the more you get out there, the more you try, the more you experience, the more you will learn. Connecting with others will become as second nature as knowing what aperture setting to select for a desired effect!
- Be in the Moment. Of all his suggestions, this one, for me, was the most poignant. Whatever situation you find yourself in – whether you are travel or simply sitting down to coffee with a new contact, think of it like an expedition. Capture your images. Be there. Be observant. Watch for cues. Practice patience.
Indeed, Mr. Hopkins’ recommendations have been helpful to me in terms of honing my photographic prowess – I hope you will find them useful to you as you embark on your next networking adventure!