I was recently in New York City visiting my brother and we went out to a rooftop bar for an evening with some friends. Being the bossy older brother, he told me when I’m at a social gathering, I need to make a point of finding the most interesting people there and talking to them. Turns out in New York, finding these kinds of people is not a difficult feat.
This proved particularly true when we met some people at the bar that night. One man told us about his extensive photography career, including work for National Geographic. When I told him I’ve always wanted to learn more about photography but never really acted on it, he looked appalled and almost shouted in his accent, “You are so young! If you want to do something you must do it now!”
We exchanged emails and once I got home, I had an email detailing my first assignment. I was to send him some of my photos and he would give me feedback followed by my next assignment for the week. I guess I found myself a new photography teacher.
Coincidentally when I started my magazine internship last week, my first assignment was to write about travel photography, and I was able to impress my editor with a pretty perfect source.
Not only did I get some great material for my article, but I have already learned so much about photography. One of his tips was this: interacting with people will get you to places that you wouldn’t get if you were just a fly on the wall.
I’m not going to lie, sometimes the idea of small talk and networking with strangers are enough to keep me from going to a party in the first place. It feels so forced and unnatural, that I would rather just stay in and avoid the social anxiety altogether. But if I have learned anything in the past few months, it’s to get over yourself.
Put yourself out there- you never know who you’ll meet that could help you down the road.