Networking for Artists and Introverts
I used to hate the idea of networking. It sounded like disingenuous, awkward horror. I wrote it off for a long time.
I later realized that there are different ways to do it, and expanding upon what you already do as a human interacting with other humans makes it way easier. It's also pretty crucial to any professional creative practice! Let's be honest. We all need people to have a career of any kind. Success does not happen without help.
So how do you network when you think it's the literal worst? The first thing is to shift your intentions. If you're focused on meeting clients, getting people to help you, or making sales, you have it backwards.
The most beneficial thing, for all involved, is to forget about what you want.
Think about it from the perspective of potential clients for a minute. What do they want? What do they not want? If you look at it purely economically, people don't want to hire/buy from the people solely trying to get their money. They want to hire/buy from the people providing something of value that they want or need. Or they want to support a worthwhile cause.
So, what can you do to build a valuable network so your work can be supported financially and otherwise?
1 - Find your people. Connect with the people who are into what you're into. The people who "get it." The people who live on the same wavelength as you. Whether you do this online or IRL is up to you! Find them, support them, build long-lasting friendships with them. They are not your competition, they are your colleagues and support system.
2 - Help. Find ways you love helping people and do it! Solve problems. Create beauty. Add value. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. There's an infinite number of ways to do it, just keep it genuine! The gifts you offer the world will attract the people you need to support your gifts.
3 - Appreciate. Show gratitude to people—even ones you don't know. Write to the people who inspire you, and tell them why. Buy someone a coffee and learn from them. You are planting seeds that may bloom into invaluable long-term connections, clients, mentorships, and more.
4 - Be where you are. If you're around people, whether grocery shopping or at a party, be open to connecting with others. Let serendipity do its thing! It can take practice, but learn to talk to strangers. Ask genuine questions. Say nice things. It can be awkward at first, but talking to people is a skill you can learn. Do some homework on how to do this if needed.
5 - Share your passions. Create awesome stuff and tell people about it! If you're excited about what you're doing other people will be too. Maybe not everyone though. It's easy to get carried away when talking about things you love, so remember to pause during long-winded explanations in case people want to ask questions, change the subject, or flee! That's okay too.
In the end, the connections we make with other people are going to make or break us, so it's wise to do it wisely—with integrity, self-respect, and an open heart.
What will you do to build or strengthen your connections? If you need more help, check out Phase 3 of Create Now.
Rather than tucking it all away in books or paid courses, I would love to keep this information flowing freely to everyone. Doing this takes takes real time, energy, and money though, so if you would like to support this work you may help by buying my book or leaving a donation. If spending money isn't an option, that's okay! Sharing my work with your friends would be great too.