Networking for Artists and Introverts

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You need to do it. So how do you build valuable connections within your comfort zone?

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 practice! Let’s be honest. We all need other people to have a career of any kind. Success does not happen without help.

So how do you build a supportive and valuable network when you think it’s the literal worst?

1. FORGET ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT

Before you take action you may need to shift your intentions a bit. It can seem counter-intuitive, but if you’re too focused on the things you want, like getting money or exposure, it makes things more difficult. For the most valuable and authentic connections, you need a more community-based mindset.

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 or buy from the people solely trying to get their money. They do want to give money to people providing something of value that they want or need. Or they want to support people or causes they care about.

To receive something of value, your focus should be on providing something of value.

2. FIND YOUR PEOPLE

Where can you find the people who are into what you’re into, who live on the same wavelength as you, and already get what you’re about? Whether you find them online or in person is up to you! Connect with them, support them, and build long-lasting friendships with them. Be a positive asset in their lives, in whatever way feels right to you. Use your imagination! How do you most like interacting with people?

3. PROVIDE VALUE

Find ways that you love to help people, then help! Solve problems. Create beauty. Add value. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. There are an infinite number of ways to do it, just keep it genuine. This should be part of your business model anyway, but it’s important to be there for your community outside of that as well.

4. APPRECIATE

Show gratitude to people – even ones you don’t know. Write to the people who inspire you, and tell them why. Leave good reviews. Promote people you believe in. Buy someone a coffee. Send flowers. Thank everyone who helps you. You are planting seeds that may bloom into invaluable long-term connections, clients, mentorships, returned favors, and more.

5. 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 how to talk to strangers. Ask genuine questions. Say nice things. Even if you find it awkward at first, talking to people is a skill you can learn. Do some research on how to do this if needed.

6. SHARE YOUR PASSION

Create awesome stuff and tell people about it! If you’re excited about what you’re doing other people will be too, and some of them will want to support you, help you, or promote your work. 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.

7. LET GO AND FLOW

The more you can relax, let go of expectations, and enjoy this process, the more successful it will be! Don’t worry about being perfect. Don’t worry if people don’t respond the way you want. Just keep going and do your best!

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.

Want to connect with me? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or find my contact info and social links at marloland.com/connect


Further reading:

Create Now!: A Systematic Guide to Artistic Audacity, Phase 3 – Sharing Your Work

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