8 ways smart artists network

Sheila Chandra - Monday, May 01, 2017


Smart artists network effectively. It’s a crucial skill for creative people, especially freelancers that want to collaborate, diversify or simply make sure they’re known to the movers and shakers in their industry. But networking doesn’t come easily to everyone. Some people are natural extroverts and enjoy networking. For those who aren’t, networking can be torture. But if you’re clear on what you want to achieve and how to go about it, networking can feel infinitely easier. Here are how smart artists network effortlessly.


#1 - Smart artists network by identifying who they want to meet

So if you need to meet a certain category of people e.g. publishers, gallerists, PR people etc. work out where they congregate. Take advantage of gallery openings, conferences or even concerts to meet people informally. Additionally find out where they hang out online. Twitter is a particularly good place to initiate contact with people because they’re more open to your joining the conversation. Commenting on an issue everyone is discussing is far more effective a way of coming to their notice than private messaging on LinkedIn. It sets them up to see you as interesting/informed too, providing what you say is intelligent, which is a definite advantage.


 #2 - Smart artists network by honing their ‘elevator pitch’

 Your ‘elevator pitch’ is what you’d ideally say about your latest project/idea to an influential person you were stuck in a lift with for two minutes. It should be pithy and packed with evocative descriptions of your project – together with a USP (unique selling point) which makes it feel like a no-brainer to buy into it. I know it can feel a bit silly but you really do need to practice your elevator pitch out loud. You’ll only have to do it once per campaign, but having that little paragraph come tripping off your tongue without much thought means you can relax when you’re networking because it’s mentally out of the way.


#3 - Smart artists build strong peer-to-peer networks

It’s a rookie mistake to ignore the other people in your field at your level. Fellow creative people can be valuable sources of information on technique, organizations you’ll commonly work with, people you should meet, possible sources of legal, financial or health based support or breaking industry news. In addition, someday you may need to curate a group show, organise a charity concert, or interview them on their speciality subject. Having strong relationships with fellow artists is a key part of the way that smart artists network.


#4 - Smart artists network effectively by finding out who the most important people in the room are

Often, you won’t have infinite time at an event to chat to everyone there. And that’s when you need to find the person organizing the event and ask them to point out the most important people there are. Smart artists network by prioritising time with the top three or top five.


#5 - Smart artists network by posting on social media

Taking a quick selfie with the people you meet is not just flattering to them. It also means you can post the photo (with their permission) on social media. On Facebook, you can tag people in the photo and make people in their network aware that you’ve met them. On Twitter, you can include their twitter handle in your tweet and alert their followers to your existence. It also reminds people in your network of what you’re up to.


#6 - Smart artists network by offering freebies, help or advice

 I’m not saying you should try to bribe people – however offering flyers, invitations to an event you’re running, an interesting looking personal card with your details on it or trifling samples of your work can be a powerful way to build a connection between yourself and someone who might otherwise forget they’ve met you. Another way to connect is by finding out what the other person is interested in, and sending a link to an interesting article, or useful contact to that person afterwards.

This is also a useful way of making sure you listen as much as you talk. It’s tempting to make networking all about the ‘elevator pitch’. Actually smart artists know that networking is about making genuine connections. No one wants to feel used or ‘pitched to’. Very off-putting! Strive to build a rapport instead – especially with important people – even if it’s simply over your mutual love of geraniums… Yes, that really will make a difference.


 #7 - Smart artists network by persevering

Sadly not everyone you want to meet will be delighted to meet you. That’s a given, especially if you’re trying to make contact with those higher up than you in your industry. Chances are, the first time they meet you they’ll dismiss you as one of the thousands ‘wannabees’ that are trying to get their attention. You have to prove yourself to be a cut above that. But you probably won’t be able to do it on the first meeting.

So make a brief introduction and let them know what you do and what you’re currently working on. Ask them an intelligent question about their work – preferably something that a curious individual like yourself has always wanted to know. Leave them your card. And yes, you need to do this all while they’re looking down their nose at you. With any luck in a few years, or with repeated meetings they’ll work out that you’re serious about your creative career and are worth knowing. Smart artists network knowing that it’s not always going to feel comfortable when you’re making the smartest move.


#8 - Smart artists network while treating everyone with the same respect

To some degree, networking does involve making a judgement on who is ‘important’ and who isn’t. Of course you should prioritise to a degree. But make sure that you don’t actually treat people differently. Never be dismissive or disdainful of people who don’t have much status, or fawn over people who do. Neither will respect you for it. Smart artists network with the understanding that today’s vagrant can be tomorrow’s superstar – or that the unassuming little old lady by the vol-au-vents may be the biggest VIP in the room’s long serving PA or their mum.

If you need help building a useful support network for your professional creative career read more in chapter 8 of ‘Organizing for Creative People’.


Post has no comments.
Post a Comment

Captcha Image


Recent Posts


stop cluttering nascent artists artist goals childhood touring control stay on top of email jealousy organizing your creative career home life networking effectively critical acclaim nurturing creative work getting ready for work work life mature artists streamlining routines clear outs work trips sheila chandra coaching anxiety creative magic to do list stardust new chapter buying wealth creative ambitions saving time tidy loss feel like creatiing car lazy making decisions business-like career strategy professional encouragement creative commissions diary domestic life successful artist working class culture creative culture clutter free wind down clutter ‘creativity’ musician creativity email overload artist workspaces slow and steady buying youth living clutter free well curated closet theft creativity diary creative career creative wellbeing much better friend cherry-picking parent good health for artists artists artist mentors work/home life balance target market new year social media under-confidence housework much quicker values how it feels to be coached communication imagination wardrobe pricing business-speak innocence author workspaces good creative habits spree motivation warm down sustainability artistic conviction quality emotional resilience how to work efficiently tidier chaotic business introverts clearing as you go green room working class artists display items great art solving creative career problems concentrated creative time email creative career coaching professional creative career work efficiently culture creative organising slim-line wardrobe subconscious mind buy fewer clothes commitment being organized loving your audience platform buying stardust nurture creativity artist copyright clearing tips for clearing artist mentoring too busy organise criteria for letting go of stuff professional mentors pop music creative confidence popular culture emotional balance lifetimes stay tidy automatically well organized hijacking creativity artistic chaos prioitising just in case long-term artistic development inspiration stop hoarding stuff coaching self promotion goals collections trope guilty purchases email bankruptcy artist collaboration cupboard of shame boredom too many commitments working with other artists creative people new revised print version focus celebrity endorsed products visualising symptoms of creativity hotel room why organise organisation peer-to-peer networks storage partners funding disorganization emotionally secure artist ‘stories’ about your possessions exhaustion time clutter resentment crowdfunding how to be naturally tidy fine art hostile clutter good friend creative person hobbies social media networking confident in clothes brilliant creator magic tidiness in living spaces temperament self-care business interface to creative businesses cleaning your desk multiple lifetimes clear desk negotiating pop culture vulnerability creative identity nipping things in the bud home care tidy people sacrifice artist materials diagnosis procrastination work priorities branding home organising staying in control grief low maintenance great artists Sheila Chandra author peacefulness effortlessly tidy mess friendships buying hope morning routines proposal writing tortoise and hare 2020 goals binge creative spark 20202 goals feeling creative clutter addict . audience clean desk cry options tidying bulk buy overwork buying happiness proposals writing funding campaigns arrogance networking living mess free minimalists clearing clutter how to save time cleaning fall of innocence static spaces dynamic spaces emotional support missed opportunities artistry writer network double standard artist studio the void efficient work patterns low maintenance strategies precious memories brands compulsion vocation artist workspace absences VIPs : clothes tension being tripped up singer friends clearing in short bursts 2018 goals myth smart artists organizing for creative people elevator pitch normality mornings card inconvenience appointments productivity hoarding letting go good art work clarity of thought tidy desk