Why I loved Le Book Connections in Chicago so much. Sharing My Top Ten Reasons.

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Le Book Connections hosted a mini event in Chicago last week.  When I first heard about the idea from Alex Orlowski, I thought it was brilliant.  Chicago is a smaller market than NYC so a smaller event, dedicated just to Chicago, was the perfect way to show off what Le Book Connections is all about.

I thought it was wildly successful.  Here are the top ten things I loved most about it.

1)  It was small and it felt exclusive.  There were not many more than 20 rep groups showing off their work.  That meant the event was manageable for anyone attending.  They could spend time reviewing many different agency books, catch up with old friends and get to know people they had’t met before.  This is all possible at a larger event, but when it is smaller it feels more intimate and less busy.

2)  We were only allowed to bring an agency book and an iPad.  I LOVED this.  Our agency book is divided by Speciality not photographer, so it got lots of attention.  People appreciated having only one book to look at as opposed to eight.  The iPad was a great vehicle to show off a deeper collection of images and video if there was interest.  And, there was minimal to set up and ship home. When you typically travel with 9 portfolios and stacks of leave behinds, this is a HUGE plus.

3)  Chicago was excited to have an event all of their own.  People showed up.  They talked about how they were looking forward to it and they are hopeful that it comes back again. The fact that Alex visited the agencies ahead of time to talk up the event did not go unnoticed. Many commented that they appreciated him taking the time to get to know them and their agency and that he encouraged them to attend.  By the time the event date arrived, there was a lot of buzz.

4)   Because the event was smaller, Le Book provided lunch. This was a big draw and gave people another reason to show up.  It also gave them a reason to hang around longer.  Thanks Le Book!

5)  The space that we had to showcase our work was small.  You would think that this was a hinderance, but it was not.  It allowed for a minimal presentation and minimal prep for the event.  Seeing that the end of year is always busy, I appreciated being able to attend an event that required little preparation yet still was very effective.

6)  It was a great way to introduce those from Chicago who were not familiar with the event or had never been to NY, LA or one of the other locations.  Le Book was smart to host this in the hopes that they will recognize the value and also attend one of the other events.

7)  Chicago is fortunate to have a close knit ad community.  It was nice for them to have a place to gather and get caught up amongst themselves.   The open bar at the end of the night didn’t hurt either!

8)  It was a great place to connect with new people in the industry and get to say hello to old friends.  Chicago is doing some cool creative work and it was great to meet some of the architects first hand.  And, even though I have been doing this job for quite some time, I am still amazed that there are people I have talked and emailed with for years that I haven’t met yet.  This event provided me the opportunity to finally meet.  Hi Kim Roemer!

9) How else could I have met well over 100 art buyers and creatives after just one day?  I could never do that on my own in one day, or even in a week.

10)  It is also important to note that these events provide an opportunity to connect with other agents.  This is a very powerful part of the event and something I really appreciate.  I have been attending Le Book Connections for only 3 years now but as a result have gotten friendly with many agents that I would not have otherwise.  We are a small industry so it is nice to know that we are not alone!

Thank you Alex Orlowski and your amazing staff.  You provided a fantastic opportunity for so many of us and we really appreciate all the effort and enthusiasm. See you in LA in January!

A week in NY – a recap of Le Book and Community Table.

What a week.  Truly. Thank you NYC for being such a great host.

It started off with our second installment of Community Table, a little birthday fun and then two full days of Le Book Connections NY.  By the end of it all, I had no voice, was 5 pounds heavier and was asleep on my feet.

But, it was all worth it – every second of it.

The week started with a our Community Table event at The Crosby Street Hotel.   Matt Nycz and Kate Chase of Brite Productions joined Lauranne and I in hosting our second round table with area art producers to discuss the issues top of mind for many photographers in our community.

We hosted 12 seasoned art producers from various agencies.  It was an incredible site to see such dynamic and creative women sitting around the table ready to share their experiences with those in our community.  Once again, Matt was the only male in the group and we loved him for that.

We talked about so many different topics such as marketing, agencies hiring producers, pro bono, client’s understanding of usage, cost consultants, social media and promo trends to name a few.  We look forward to sharing the conversation with everyone once we transcribe and edit our notes.

We realized when it was over that a perfect evolution for The Community Table would be to next time consider talking about just ONE topic. Maybe production, maybe estimates, maybe usage to name a few.  That way, we can truly discuss the many layers of the topic without the need to move on to the other topics.

We hear over and over that the art producers enjoy this event not just because they are excited about the conversation, but because they enjoy seeing each other.  We feel the same way.  It is rare that we can see each other out of the work setting and it felt very much like a community.  Exactly the point.

The Le Book event proved just as powerful.  Two full days of non stop connections.  The energy was high and the creativity flowing.  People were excited to walk the room to see old friends, make new ones and see what is happening creatively out there.  Once again Le Book Connections provided a casual environment for agents and clients to meet and share work.

Here are some of the highlights of the event:

•  The weather was perfect.  This made a huge difference in attendance.  As well, I heard a rumor that Le Book worked hard to space out the attendees so that there was never a HUGE rush of people but rather a steady and manageable stream.  If that is true, it worked!

•  This year we brought with us our GROUP PORTFOLIO.  This was  big hit.  The power of it was that we divided the book by SPECIALTY and not photographer.  People could then review the portfolio first, find the work they liked and then ask to see the photographer’s own portfolio for more.  This was the perfect answer to the endless question, “What do you have that is new?”

•  A few of the photographers in the group had new portfolios which were fun to show off.   Many clients who came by recognized that they were new – this made all the effort in creating them worth it.

•  Once again, we met MANY contacts from client direct companies.  This is VERY important to us because we find that these targets are hard to come by with regular channels.

•  Our portfolios stood out among the sea of iPads and black leather portfolios. We had colorful covers that attracted people to our table. And, the interiors were well designed and always a crowd pleaser.  And, those malt balls were once again a hit.  Funny how that works.

•  Le Book does a great job of attracting people from all over, not just NY.  It was so wonderful to see our friends from Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Texas and of course New York.

•  The cocktail party at the end of each evening was, as always, a hit.  This year, we were in a section that was not very lively so to attract people, we decided to hire a bartender (a very hot bartender!) to mix martinis.  Between the shaking sounds of the shaker and his nice biceps, we had men and women racing to our booth.  Money well spent and a tradition we will surely continue.

•  The cocktail party is truly one of the best parts of Le Book. The energy changes slightly and made me think (well Kate Chase put the idea in my head) that Le Book should consider changing the time to the event to later in the afternoon through to later in the night.  Just when the party gets going it is time to leave.  Just a thought….

•  We also met a lot of  other rep and vendors. This is such a special part of the event.  The idea of connecting with these people as well is powerful in that can increase our community and feel less like we are operating in a vacuum.

•  Our blog was also an effective draw to the booth.  People came up to us and shared how much they appreciated the conversations we started and the information we shared.  Many people would let us know their favorite posts.   It felt good to know that all the effort we put into it pays off.

Fellow agents always ask me if I think Le Book is worth the money.  I do not hesitate to say yes, especially for the photographers.  In our group they split the cost so for them it is very affordable and a small  part of their marketing budget.  They get a lot of bang for their buck for these two events.  Let me be clear,  it is not inexpensive.  But on a per person basis it is a reasonable amount of money for the access we receive. I just wish there was more opportunity for them to experience what we do.

Now, for us.  It is much more expensive.  Between the travel, the shipping, the promos, group portfolio creation, coverage in the office, booth design, martinis and hot bartender, it is much more expensive. That said, if I look at the bottom line of what we spend and I think about who we meet and connect with, I still say YES YES YES.  There is no other event that we can see as many people under one roof whom are so open to connecting with us as at Le Book.

Lastly, I should point out that SO many people helped to make this event a success. Thank you Alex, Patrick and all of your team at Le Book – you were attentive and ON IT!  Thank you to all of our photographers for taking our to do list seriously and providing us with the tools needed to brag about your properly.  Thank you Lauranne for all the coordination, handling of missed deadlines, partnership and of course friendship (and taking a photo of me and Kurt from Glee!!).  And to Henrietta for being there beside us to help put our best NY foot forward.   To Cheryln Quan of Heat for your design help, Nicole Anderson of BookArts for your mastery of book making and Wolf Prints for providing our group portfolio with prints that rivaled all others at the event- I know this because SO MANY PEOPLE said so. And, finally to Taya Curtin http://www.nabookarts.com/ for putting up with all the travel changes and every other detail that we had to think and rethink about.

And of course, finally, to everyone who attended and brought with them an openness to make new connections and see new work.

Until the next time…..

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What did we think was so great about Le Book Connections in LA this year? Everything.

On January 26, 2012, Lauranne and I were presenters at Le Book Connections in Los Angeles.  It was Le Books’ second year hosting in Los Angeles and we presented both times.    Once again, they did not disappoint.  It was a success indeed.  Here were our observations:

NEW WORK IS STILL KING

For those of you who have never seen the event, think trade show.  There are booths of vendors lined up next to each other showcasing the work of their talent.  There are a large variety of books, iPads, leave behinds and treats – all designed to draw in the reviewers.  As you can imagine, there is a lot to see and many people to meet.

Time and time again when an art buyer or art director that knew our group well entered our booth, to help cut through the clutter , the first thing they often said was, “Show me what is new.”  For those photographers that provided new prints, we directed them to the portfolios. For those that did not update their books, we directed them to the iPad.

Just as with previous Le Book events, it was those photographers that had the most amount of new work for us to share that received the most amount of attention from clients that were already familiar with our group.

SPECIALTIES ARE IMPORTANT

Just as was the case with the other events, renewers who came by that were not familiar with our group often asked to see specific types of photography rather than just review random portfolios.  Since they didn’t know the photographers in our group, they did not ask for them by name.  Instead, they would ask for Still Life or Food or Lifestyle or Portrait etc photography to review.     This made it easy to get to know what they were looking for and share with them work that would be relevant.

IPAD VS PORTFOLIO

The main attractions at our booth were the portfolios.  We had 2 iPads present but neither were reviewed very much.  Having them on hand just in case there was a need to show additional imagery was important.  Even though the need did not arise often, we will continue to bring them in the event that one does.

NETWORKING

As always, this event proved invaluable to making new connections and reconnecting with old ones.  Hands down, Le Book has been the strongest place to network with the client direct reviewers.  They are the hardest to find on our own and often are not accurately listed on any database.  We came home with so many business cards of new people requesting to be put on our mailing list.  In addition, we received an invitation from a startup agency in LA to come back down and present our work to their team.  It was nice to be asked since we are always the ones doing the asking!

Thank you Alex Orlowski for all of your hard work in directing and promoting the event.  It was the perfect atmosphere to catch up with old clients and make new connections.  We are looking forward to the event in NY in June and already have some great ideas on how to show off our work.