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I’m always looking for new ways to grow social media – it’s what I love to do and what I coach about. So naturally, when I decided to really focus on growing my Instagram (@tanyasmithonline) I knew I needed more pictures.

About a month ago, I signed up on recommendation from a friend (@iamvaleriehatcher – in the photo above) to be a part of an incredible weekend with fashion bloggers and photographers, full glitz and glam.   Although I’m probably one of the nerdiest people I know, I thought this would be a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and do something wild that would build my Instagram presence.

It was a huge leap for me.

One of the things I often have encouraged clients to do is to try something new and different to break out of a business rut. Well, this whole experience was indeed a break out moment for me…and I’m all the better and more knowledgeable for it.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t be afraid to try something new to grow your online brand. Visual imagery is a great way to do this.” username=”MindfullyMktg”]

About the Inspire Society

So, first a little background.  Inspire Society is a self-described “one-day ultra glam marathon photo shoot for influencers, bloggers, photographers and creatives” hosted by my girls, Jess Fisher & Mandy Holmes.  Mandy explained that as a fashion blogger herself, at some point she was tired of doing so many shoots on her own. The prep and set up required, and the long hours were grueling but she had her system down.

She thought if it was going to take so much time, why not do it with more people and share the resources.  Mandy and Jess were the perfect match – with Mandy’s glam and Jess’ business savvy, the two eventually partnered to come up with a way to take that glam show on the road, compress it into a one-day blitz and give the gift of beautiful images, fashion and networking to groups like the one hosted here in Dallas.

They called the event Inspire Society (@theinspiresociety).

The Inspire Society glam session is held all over the U.S. in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.  Here in Texas, it definitely attracted some amazing and highly fashionable ladies so the networking was full-on designer goddess style!

And little old me in my conservative, non-flashy style — to be honest, I thought I wouldn’t fit in at all but it turned out I was so wrong.

I thought I’d share my lessons as takeaways for you, especially if you’re thinking about building a more visual brand online and breaking into platforms like Instagram or Pinterest, which really get traction when you have more ‘real’ images.

[bctt tweet=”3 Lessons from the Inspire Society Experience by Tanya Smith” username=”MindfullyMktg”]

Lesson 1:  Get Over Yourself

Like I said, I was pretty overwhelmed when I first walked in. Having done only one real photo shoot in my life (with no one but me and the photographer), I felt like a small fish in a big pond with lots of shiny, blingy fish. But Jess & Mandy set the tone for a very highly structured day and the hotel was absolutely magnificent. I couldn’t help but enjoy the excitement buzzing all around. I quickly got my act together and squeezed right on into the fray.

And while at first it was a bit intimidating, in the process of telling myself  to “just go say hi” I ended up meeting several beautiful and very down-to-earth ladies who I still stay connected with on Instagram.  There are even opportunities for some of us to partner and collaborate further down the road – all because I simply said “yes” to the universe and got over that low expectation of myself and what was possible.

My courageously fashionable girlfriend (who also happens to help me dress up for any of my social events and speaking gigs) convinced me to try, but in the end I had to take the step.

Lesson 2:  Always Be Ready

Years of being in business have taught me as an introvert to really get clear on my brand and what I offer. Having my one-liner elevator speech came in handy because most of the photographers were there to shoot women in fashion, not the average tech or digital blogger.  What saved me in the shots I loved most is speaking up and being clear on my brand.

[bctt tweet=”Be able to share your brand profile in seconds – it’s important to help collaborators know how to best partner with you” username=”MindfullyMktg”]

The format flowed in a way that allowed each of the bloggers and influencers to be matched up with multiple photographers over a period of about 15 minutes.  This allowed for us to create several scenes throughout the day.

When I’d meet a new photographer who asked about my typical day and environment, being comfortable with my spiel allowed them to make the best connection. @Angela_Flournoy and a few others were AMAZING at this.  She even captured a few photos of me simply typing on my iPad which works great for Instagram posts where I want to talk about the website.

Honestly, even those that didn’t match my brand directly were great to work with. Why? Because knowing what I liked and didn’t like gave me ideas of how to really get clear on what I want for the next time. #win

Lesson 3:  Images Sell

Since the Inspire Society event, I’ve found that it’s really awesome to be able to pick from my new ‘library’ of images, come up with a great caption and hashtags…and post. Being given the opportunity to participate in the event has grown my Instagram in a matter of weeks, introduced me to new girlfriends, plus it’s given me more confidence to engage in even more experiences with photography.

It all started with an idea (Jess & Mandy) and the willingness to try something new (me).  What if I’d said no?  Well, I’d still probably be looking for more stock photos to share.

[bctt tweet=”Creating a more authentic and ‘real’ brand through images and great photography can really grow your social media.” username=”MindfullyMktg”]

For those of you seeking to create a more visual brand that really represents you with your audience, I highly encourage you to seek out events like the Inspire Society tribe glam sessions.  Look for one near you on their website at

And even if it’s not an ultra-glam photo shoot, find ways in your business to try something new  that inspires you to take things to the next level.  You never know what might happen!