Meeting new people and being able to introduce yourself as an artist is essential to growing your art business.
The more people you know, the more people there are to appreciate, buy, and tell people about your art.
[ Catch my short workshop, The People Plan for establishing conscious connections for your art business. ]
The best tip I can give is just to get out! Online relationships are valuable, but in-person meetings can make an artist’s career.
[ Check out my post (with podcast episode) Being Seen: Networking for Artists for tips on where to network. ]
Putting yourself and your art out into the world doesn't come easy. One thing that might help is to remember that you're just meeting people. The stakes are low at this point. My best advice is to encourage you simply to be genuine.
Networking is a two-way street. You must care about nurturing relationships (read: you must care about the people you’re connecting with) in order to be a successful networker.
Having said that, here are the biggest mistakes you can make when networking.
Don't Do These Things
- Don't approach new people in a transactional way. Expecting something in return for what you're offering feels icky and doesn't leave any room for a genuine relationship to bloom. Always meet someone first and get to know them before asking for anything.
- Don't hang out only with artists who work in the same genre or medium as you. What fun is that?! You won’t grow until you bust out of your comfort zone.
- Don't shove your business card at people or see how many cards you can unload at a single event. Effective networking is about the quality of relationships, not the quantity. That brings me to …
- Don't forget to get business cards or info from the people you meet. It’s far more important that you get their information than that you give them yours. This puts you in control, which helps you avoid error #7.
- Don't forget people’s names right after you’ve been introduced. There aren't a lot of excuses here. Saying “I’m bad with names” is a self-fulfilling prophecy and makes you bad with names.
If you genuinely care about the people you’re meeting, you’ll make an effort. Repeat their name immediately. Use a trick from the Car Talk guys and ask how the name is spelled.
- Don't use networking as an opportunity to tell people everything about yourself. Let the relationship unfold naturally. Besides, people love to talk about themselves (thus my caution here) and will like you more if you focus the conversation on their interests.
- Don't sound anxious or needy. These are straight-out energy killers.
- Don't fail to follow up after meeting people. If you follow up with a “nice to meet you” email, phone call, or note card within a couple of days, they are more likely to remember you.
If you wait too long to follow up, your communication might look more like a sales pitch than a considerate message.
First published August 27, 2015. This post has been updated with original comments intact.