Published on Friday 23 October 2020

Creatives Toolbox: The Art of Networking

Digital Dilemma Exhibition by Isaiah Morris Photo credit Jeremy Kruckle

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.

  • Instagram: Is a great place to show off your work. It is one of the most popular visuals based social media platform today. Using hashtags makes being discovered and finding other creatives to network with a lot easier. Follow people whose work you find interesting and strike up a conversation by commenting on a post or sending them a direct message.

  • Facebook: Facebook is a great place to join private art groups where other creatives often post about local arts opportunities, their works and ask lots of questions making it a great place to network! You can also follow professional pages of the people you admire and create your own page dedicated to your arts practice. Facebook is also a good tool for finding out about creative events in your area to help you hit that networking circuit.

  • Twitter: Twitter is a great place to meet like-minded people. Find people through the Twitter search function who are interested in art and build your relationship by sharing other people’s tweets or tweeting about topics that you are interested in.

  • LinkedIn: The main objective of LinkedIn is to create and build a professional network of contacts within your industry. Here you can connect with new people by joining industry groups and contributing to conversations that interest you. You can also share relevant articles or links to useful resources if you think it might add value to the conversation.
  • DeviantArt: Boasts of being “the world’s largest online community of artists and art lovers”. This platform allows people to connect through the creation and sharing of art. You can even sell your work here too. Here you will have access to a range of forums along with some great networking features linked to user profiles

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!

Related blog

Join our eNewsletter