Whether you love, tolerate or hate networking (and let’s be honest, most people don’t find it fun!) networking is a crucial part of your professional growth. It can open up doors for artists and creators to connect, learn, and ultimately help each other grow.
But for some the thought of forced conversations or pitching yourself can be intimidating and awkward. As you advance in your art career, learning how to network and build relationships will become even more important. Here are a few tips that will have you networking like a pro in no time.
Tip #1: Hit the networking circuit
It’s time to get out of the studio and start meeting new people. One of the best ways to start building your network is by hitting the networking circuit and start forging those new connections. A good place to start is by attending industry shows and events such as gallery openings, artists’ talks and art fairs. Sign up to various arts industry mailing lists or art organisations such as ArtsHub (free if you are a student) to find out when these events are on. You can also find local networking groups through websites such as Meetup and Eventbrite.
Tip #2: Pay it forward
Helping other people is a huge part of networking. It helps to build a strong, genuine community around you. What ideas, knowledge or experience can you bring to the table? The more open, generous and supportive you are, the more likely that same energy and opportunity will follow. It can open up the doors to potential collaborations, exhibitions, residencies and generate more opportunities organically.
Tip #3: Connect online
There are many opportunities to connect with other creatives from the comfort of your home. Social media is a great example of this. It is the perfect spot for building your network more broadly.
Here are some social media platforms that are a great place to start.
Tip #4: Look to connect, not to sell
Networking is about letting people know who you are and what you do but it is important to remember that you are not selling anything. Refrain from trying to convince people of your worth and instead focus on forming a genuine connection based on your shared interests. The key to building these genuine connections is by listening, communicating, sharing, and adding value. Through these conversations you will naturally pick up tips and advice along the way.
Tip #5: Don’t judge a book by its cover
Don’t rule out those who work in slightly different fields or have different interests to you. If you have struck up a conversation with an artist working in a different sector don’t rule them out, you never know what you might learn from someone with a different perspective or who they might know! Branching out can lead to finding out about opportunities that you may not have heard about otherwise. Whilst you initially may not see a direct link with what you are doing it may just open up the door to opportunities you would never imagine.
Tip #6 Follow up
So you have made some new connections, what next? Don’t drop off the radar, now is the time to put your energy towards nurturing these new relationships. Keep in touch by reaching out to check in or to share any relevant opportunities that you think will be of interest. If you see one of your connections has launched a new exhibition or been nominated for an award on social media, reach out and congratulate them. It is all about keeping the conversation going.
Networking is about building long term relationships and a good reputation over time. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with reaching out. Find a few events each month where other creators will be, pencil them into your calendar and start building your community!