I recently got a part-time job at the gym, here's to getting through the winter struggle! During our orientation, we had to awkwardly introduce ourselves. Our names, job title and location. I felt so tempted to stand up and say, Keenan Hastings, Photographer, Downtown Detroit, but I knew they meant our job title within their establishment, not life. My speech took 10 seconds, I'm with they call a dominant speaker (someone who gets's straight to the point). After our game they deemed that the introduction part of the orientation wasn't fulfilling, so they made us play a game.
In this game, we had to pick cards with images on them that best represented our life. I picked the Eiffel Tower and a person playing basketball by himself. We then had to explain these cards. I picked the Eiffel Tower because it's something that I one day hope to see, this was a metaphor to my blog, I one day hope to see it become this beautiful, special thing, the world appreciates. I picked the kid playing basketball by himself because I often practice my hobbies alone. Not basketball, but photography.
After explaining my cards, someone stood up and said: "why don't you hang out with other photographers?". I explained that most photographers didn't take the craft as serious as I do, the amount of research I do and the type of conversations I want to have simply aren't fulfilling enough... They said, "why not just utilize online?"
I wanted to come back with something witty. But the truth was that I really didn't utilize the online community. Sure I tweet and share on Instagram, but that's it. I've never reached out to anyone, I play alone because I never ask anyone to join and that had to stop.
I began to think about the people I looked up to, those who I idolized early own. Eric Kim, Chase Jarvis, Zack Arias, and Emily Soto. These were the individuals that who's websites I visited daily. Later down the road came Bruce Gilden, Laura Jade, and Joey L. I learned so much from these photographers, rather it is their blog or interviews they did, they poured out information and I sucked it all up. I began to love business, Gary Vaynerchuk was my guy, then vlogging, Casey Neistat is unreal. Every day I took in a load of information, yet I never once thought to send these influencers an email or tweet. My thought process? They're experts at their craft, why would they talk to me?
You're Not Wasting Your Time
Truth is, they will. Whenever I get an email or tweet from someone explaining to me that I've helped them it makes me happy inside. It makes me fee like what I do gives people purpose... and that gives me purpose. I'm sure the influencers of the world get that same feeling. Now obviously I'm on a much smaller scale than these people in terms of whom I reached, but that doesn't mean my impact is small. I make it a priority of mine to get back to everyone who's reached out to me and you never know if the people you look up to share the same values.
I gained some insightful information from Gary Vaynerchuk and I tweeted him in detailing thanking him for the motivation he gave me for that day. He responded and then he started to respond consistently. We didn't necessarily build an online relationship, but I believe that if I reach out to him he'll see my name, remember me and feel inclined to respond. That's how it starts. Small steps. The secret, say something worth responding to. A "thank-you" probably isn't going to do it. Why are you thanking him? How has his information helped you? People want a story, you have one, so tell it.
How It Can Benefit Them
The key to reaching out to someone is that it should benefit them as well. People who are experts at their craft are experts because of you, they don't forget that and neither should you. Whenever you send them a nice compliment or positive feedback then they want to share that with the rest of the world, just like you would. Don't look at it as kissing ass or hyping someone up, if it's genuine then it shouldn't feel like that.
Recently I reached out to Eric Kim, I'm not sure what I said, or how many times I reached out, but whatever I said it was genuine and over time he probably remembered my name. During his stream with Adobe I commented a few times and to my surprise, he said: "what up KeenanRIVALS, that's my homie from online". I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point. My Tweets and comments weren't premeditated, meaning I wasn't doing them to be recognized, but they presented him value, so that was the outcome. A few days or maybe a week later he reached out to me and asked if I liked to be interviewed on his blog.
Again, this presents him value. I have a small audience, chances are most of you know about Eric Kim, but there's a chance that a few of you don't. My friends for sure don't, local photographers for sure don't, again they aren't that serious when it comes to the crafts. Me being featured means I'd be sharing this publication to my following, it may introduce him to a new crowd, rather it is small or big.
How It Can Benefit You
I think this part of the blog post is obvious. Communicating with influencers can be huge in a jabillion ways for you. In this case with Eric Kim, I'll probably have an entirely new crowd visiting my site. It's what 8AM? I've hit the amount of people I typically do for a day already. Now more people can see my blog post, my pictures and join me on social media as I document my journey. But it doesn't just benefit my website, it benefits me mentally. I know have a friend to talk to, I'm sure I can reach out to Eric and say hey, I need help with this. These people may turn into mentors or great friends, the opportunities are endless.
As I write this I'm thinking of a real life metaphor to give this article some depth. Here's what I came up with.You ever tell a random stranger that their outfit is cool? What normally happens afterward? They say thank you and return the favor. Here's an example.
"Hey thanks, I bought it at Nordstroms, by the way, you're denim is sick, where'd you get it?"
See how that works? Not only did you receive a compliment back, but now you're talking about something you love. Isn't that interaction easy? You could do that 45 times a day right? Do the same online (continue to do it in person as well).
Try it, I honestly believe in reaching out to someone you look up to every day. I know that's a realistic goal because every day I read something that makes me think. Whenever I see a good blog or even a good tweet I reach out to that person and let them know. It's the small things that can help you win big. Again if it's genuine then it won't seem forced or like a job.
If you'd like to read my article by Eric Kim then you can check out the various links above, or the one here. It's amazing to be featured on a website that I read extensively as I got into photography myself. If you're new here, then welcome, I'm random and my content is all over the place, it normally has something to do with street photography, self-confidence as an artist and marketing trategies to help brand yourself. I'm sure most of you fall into one of those categories. Until next time!