Networking in today’s digital lexicon means how many friends or followers you can boast on social media platforms. But in the real world, these connections do not cut much ice. The traditional art of networking, where you meet and greet people at industry dos, exchange cards, and generally have an amiable exchange of information, is what gets the work done.
Networking is not only about collecting business cards or having a great profile and followers on LinkedIn; it is about building a meaningful relationship with people with whom you share common professional interests. For creative people, especially for artists who work alone or are freelancers, the task requires more work.
This might be true for almost all freelancers. But for creative people, it becomes a tad more difficult as their likely customers and business associates tend to be more niche.
So how do you grow your network if you are in the creative field? Our advice is, do not be cavalier about your craft and work. Creative people tend to be easy-going and casual about business. Do not make that mistake. Carry a business card with you always. It shows your seriousness about building a clientele for your work. As far as possible, the card should be personalized by depicting some small icons or a piece of your creativity.
Create a website. It is not expensive, and there are myriad free sites that allow you to build one. Post your content there. It is essential to have a digital profile in today’s connected world. If you are not in the ether, you are invisible is the philosophy nowadays. So create a digital presence.
Engage with your potential clients, customers, and even business associates on Twitter and Instagram. Snapchat is another suitable medium to keep a narrative going. It teases people into delving into your work.
Confidence in your work
Very few creative people are extroverts, except for those in performance arts. Do not believe that your work will speak for itself. You need to put yourself out there and talk about what you are doing and how it all came about. It is about being your own brand ambassador. Show the passion you feel for your craft. If you are passionate and confident about what you do, people will undoubtedly respond and will want to work with you.
Even your body language matters. If you are retiring and apologetic or even too aggressive and condescending to your audience, then it puts off people.
Spread your wings
Being in a field where you are creatively and artistically self-sufficient, it kind of isolates you. It is imperative that you focus your energies not only on the craft but on sharing it and ultimately earning from it. A good way is to be part of some association, a forum of like-minded people, or an organization. Attend gatherings, shows, talks, and interact. These meetings build your network, keep you updated and informed, and one can even observe veterans in their craft, and how they socialize and network.
Suggest one-to-one meetings whenever you feel that a person is genuinely interested in your craft and is asking questions. A relaxed atmosphere is always conducive to building bridges and future leads.
Ultimately, networking is about belief in your work and sharing it with others for mutual benefit.