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A guide to networking and making connections

What is networking?

Networking refers to the process of building and maintaining professional relationships and connections with other individuals and organizations in a particular field or industry. The goal of networking is to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities that can benefit both parties involved. In short, networking is about building and nurturing relationships with people who share your interests and goals, and can support and help you in your personal and professional growth.


How can we benefit from networking?

Networking is an essential aspect of an artist's career. By building relationships and connections with other professionals in the industry, artists can benefit in many ways.


  1. Career advancement: Networking can help individuals to identify and pursue new job opportunities, and can also provide valuable insights into different industries and career paths.

  2. Professional development: Networking provides the opportunity to learn from others in your field, exchange ideas, and expand your knowledge and skills.

  3. Building a support system: Networking can help to build a supportive community of colleagues and peers who can provide encouragement, advice, and opportunities for collaboration.

  4. Access to resources and information: Networking can provide individuals with access to valuable resources and information that can help them in their personal and professional lives.

  5. Increased visibility and exposure: Networking can help individuals to increase their visibility and exposure to others in their field, which can lead to new opportunities and recognition for their work.

  6. Improved confidence and communication skills: Networking can help individuals to develop their confidence and communication skills, which can benefit them in both their personal and professional lives.

  7. Networking also provides opportunities for professional development, where artists can learn about new techniques, and emerging trends, and gain valuable insights from other professionals in the industry. Lastly, building a network of industry contacts provides a supportive community for artists, who can turn to their network for advice, guidance, and feedback.

Is networking only for extroverts?

While it is true that some extroverts may find networking easier or more natural, introverts can also be successful networkers. Networking is a skill that can be developed and practiced by anyone, regardless of their personality types. For introverts, it can be helpful to approach networking as a way to build meaningful connections with a small number of people, rather than trying to meet as many people as possible. They can also focus on online networking through social media or professional networking platforms, which may be more comfortable for them. Additionally, introverts can prepare for networking events by thinking about their goals and what they hope to gain from the experience, and by having a list of topics to discuss in advance. With effort and practice, introverts can develop their networking skills and reap the benefits of building relationships and connections in their professional field.


What to consider before a networking event?


Here are some things specific to consider before attending an artist networking event:

  1. Research the event and attendees: Research the event and the attendees to ensure that it aligns with your goals and objectives, and that it will provide opportunities to connect with the right people, such as galleries, curators, and other artists.

  2. If it’s a physical event, double-check the place, time, and any other requirements to enter the event. If it’s an online event, sure you have the necessary technology and equipment, such as a reliable internet connection, a camera, and a microphone, to participate in the virtual event.

  3. Artwork portfolio: Prepare a portfolio of your work to showcase your skills and expertise. Make sure your portfolio is well-presented, professional, and showcases your best work.

  4. Elevator pitch: Prepare a short and engaging elevator pitch to introduce yourself and your work to others. Be ready to articulate your unique style, approach, and what sets you apart from other artists.

  5. Professional attire: Dress appropriately for the event and make sure your attire is professional and in line with the dress code.

  6. Active listening: Be an active listener and engage in meaningful conversations with others. Ask questions, be interested in others, and look for opportunities to build relationships and collaborate with other artists.

  7. Follow-up: After the event, follow up with the people you met to continue the conversation and build the relationship. This can be done through a personalized email or message and should include any relevant information or resources you promised to share.

How to overcome the nervousness to start networking?

Networking can be nerve-wracking for some people, especially for introverts or those who are new to the scene. Here are some tips for overcoming nervousness when networking:

  1. Set realistic goals: Focus on making a few meaningful connections rather than trying to meet as many people as possible.

  2. Practice self-care: Take care of yourself leading up to the event by eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that make you feel calm and confident.

  3. Be yourself: Remember that everyone else is there to make connections too, and that most people are friendly and approachable. Be yourself, and don't try to be someone you're not.

  4. Prepare: Familiarize yourself with the event and the attendees, and prepare a script for introducing yourself and your work. This can help you feel more confident and in control during the event.

  5. Focus on others: Instead of focusing on yourself and your nervousness, focus on the other person and their interests. Ask questions and actively listen to what they have to say, and try to find common ground.

  6. Start small: If large events are overwhelming, consider starting with small, low-stakes events, such as local artist groups or gallery openings, to build up your confidence and get more comfortable with networking.

  7. Seek support: Reach out to friends, mentors, or colleagues who have experience with networking, and ask for their advice and support.

With practice and patience, you can overcome your nervousness and become a confident networker who is able to build valuable relationships in the art community.


What if I have few industry connections?

Cold outreach can be meaningful and effective, but it depends on how it's approached and the specific goals of the outreach. Here we offer a few cold outreach strategies that can be helpful:

  1. Start by researching the person you want to connect with and tailor your message to their interests and needs. Mention something specific about their work or a common interest, and explain why you would like to connect with them.

  2. Offer to help the person in some way, whether it’s providing information, making an introduction, or offering your expertise. This demonstrates your genuine interest in building a relationship and can increase the likelihood of a positive response.

  3. Keep your message short and focused, and avoid making it seem like a sales pitch. Instead, express your interest in building a relationship and finding ways to help each other.

  4. If the person is willing to connect, offer to meet in person or schedule a call. This will help to build a stronger relationship and provide an opportunity to learn more about each other.

  5. If you don’t receive a response, don’t be discouraged. Follow up with a polite message and offer to connect at a later date. Persistence can sometimes pay off, and the person may be more willing to connect after they have had a chance to consider your request.


How do you find networking events?

There are plenty of places to meet interesting people. You could check out listing sites like our newsletter. 

Other places to get started are:

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