When Le Book announced they were coming west for their Connections event, so many people wondered if the clients in LA would really attend. Would they leave their offices and make the trek across town? Well, they sure did. And, so did plenty of others, including SF, Chicago, Seattle and even NY.
From our perspective, the event was a huge success. We not only connected with many old friends and clients but we made that many more new ones.
Here are some of our observations:
• As always, having new work to show was CRUCIAL.
There were many familiar faces that stopped by to say hello and view the work. Many were very aware of our talent and hired them often. It is no wonder then that when some visited our booth they requested to see “only the new work.” This was not surprising given the amount of imagery they were looking at over the course of the day.
We were glad that many in the group took the time to update their portfolios. For those that did not, in those particular cases, their work was not reviewed. It reminded us yet again how CRUCIAL it is to update the websites and the portfolios.
It was painfully obvious that new work was not just a filter for their LA Connections visit but instead one that they use all the time.
• iPads or Portfolios?
There were exhibitors with just iPads, some with just portfolios and some with both. It was obvious that the iPad had not completely replaced the portfolio and that it is here to stay. We over heard many people talking about how they understand how much easier it is to show on an iPad and how much cleaner the presentation is. We heard just as many people point out that they prefer the portfolios –even though they are starting to feeling big and bulky – because the iPads are just like websites and they can go online anytime. There was no argument that people still like the printed pieces.
One way we utilized the iPad this time was to create multiple and varied portfolios. Not only did we have portfolios for each photographer but we created ones that showcased images from a particular category/specialty as we do on our website. A few people came by the booth and asked to see people shooters or landscape shooters. The iPad was a great tool to get them looking at who in our group photographed in the style of the specialty they were looking for and then direct them to the particular portfolio.
• It was time for a change.
I have been going to LA every January for at least the ten years. I make the rounds, host an occasional party and enjoy dinners and lunches with clients that have long ago become friends. The portfolio shows are always well attended and I leave feeling successful. LA has always been good to our group so it is a nice week and a good chance to say thank you.
While we did not have the one on one attention of a portfolio show, we did still get to see everyone. Many reviewed the work and all took our promos. And, most importantly everyone was focused. No one was running off to check emails or race to a meeting. It was social and fun and a reminder of how far strong relationships go in our business.
• More people attended from out of town than we have expected.
While it is well known that people come from all over to attend the NY and London Connections event, we were not sure those same people would come to LA. Our expectation was that if we could connect with clients from LA then it would be a success. Well, our expectations were surely exceeded.
Maybe it was the weather back east, but our booth hosted many visitors from NY, Chicago and Minneapolis. Friends and clients from Seattle and San Francisco made a good showing as well.
We heard over and over again how Connections LA was like what Connections NY was when it first started; “Smaller and more manageable. Friendlier and much more accessible.”
• And, finally, the new connections we made were invaluable.
The atmosphere was casual and non aggressive. People could come up and say hello easily or could choose to review work without feeling the need to introduce themselves. That said, most everyone did introduce themselves.
There was a large number of interactive companies, freelancers and client direct attendees. For us, these are the hardest names to come by and these people came right up to us, introduced themselves and happily gave us their cards and asked us to keep in touch.
We came away with a long list of new names to add to our database. On that list are about 5 really amazing targets that the feeling was mutual that someday, sometime soon, we will be working together.
And, isn’t that what it was all about? We would love to hear your experiences, please do share.