Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Networking for Artists

Meeting people. One of the most important elements to success in your endeavor of promoting and selling your art.

Of course, one can meet many friends and family, but these contact can go just so far. You have to get out there and meet NEW PEOPLE to get your stuff known.

It's quite difficult to just jump into a room full of people you don't know and engage in conversation, but it's essential to do so in order to further your artwork. This art of meeting new people is commonly referred to as "networking".


Why is networking great for artists?
Remember: it's not who you know that counts in the end, it's who knows you! If you make a sufficient impression on somebody, they will be able to think of you when some kind of opportunity arises within their activities.

Once you develop your network (which will surely be filled with like-minded people as well as more business-oriented contacts), they will be able to refer you to potential clients. Think of it as your own marketing team always ready to promote your artwork and abilities to interested parties.

Where to network
This word of mouth can be accomplished in many different ways, you can physically meet people at events, virtually meet them online or through contacts of contacts.

Great places to network include:
  • Museums in your home town
  • Art associations
  • Art-related events and conferences
  • Seminars
  • Galleries (especially during art openings)
  • Alumni associations
  • Online forums
  • Blogging
  • Other social websites

Networking etiquette


Before the event
Once you have identified a good event to attend, you must prepare for it:
  • Dress appropriately for the venue
  • Bring business cards (note your contact info and website address on them)
  • Have a goal (so that you can then identify if you have succeeded in accomplishing it - measuring your effectiveness)
  • Eat prior to the event
During the event
Once you arrive, the fun really starts. But keep in mind the following tips:
  • Be polite and relaxed
  • Don't hesitate to someone who seems alone. Or join the conversation of a group of three other people (it is much more difficult to jump into a two-way discussion)
  • Ask open questions (not "yes" or "no" questions)
  • Keep conversations short and sweet
  • Offer to exchange business cards at the end of the conversation
  • Don't eat too much of the food or drink too much wine
After the event
Once the event is over doesn't mean the networking is over:
  • Take notes about event participants (on their business cards)
  • Follow up with interesting contacts by email or phone the next day
  • Plan to meet at least one new contact for a coffee
  • Find another event to attend

Conclusion

Networking might seem hard at first, but once you get the hang of it (and start recognising familiar faces at events) it becomes more natural.

As an artist, you probably are more introverted and fear rejection a bit more than the rest of the population because your art is often very close to your heart. But if you get over your fear of rejection, you art business (because as an artists, you are in the business of selling your art) will benefit immensely from the word of mouth that networking provides.

34 Comments:

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Hi
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Just how successful have you been with these tips and how would it work overseas??

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5:45 AM  
Anonymous phil said...

Nice Blog! Thanks for helping people promote their art! I'm going to subscribe to your blog !

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Nikki said...

These are great tips! I especially like the one about eating before the event - nothing makes it harder to focus on a conversation than a low blood-sugar attack. I realize this is a particularly difficult thing for many introverted folks to do, and I found that working with a coach is rather helpful. A good source is Paul Travis, husband of an artist himself and a marketing professional. His site has some helpful tips designed especially for people who see themselves as shy. You can check out his site below. Thanks for posting this, as there is nothing more frustrating than seeing amazing talent go unnoticed due to lack of exposure!

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Anonymous CarylAlys said...

Networking is hard to do ... if you can master it (or at least become comfortable doing it), you can do anything!

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Anonymous Angela said...

Thank you loads for your tips! When you are just starting it can seem very confusing first. There are so many social websites these days and you should be present everywhere but real life contacts still count even more these days.

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