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.
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.
Everyone you run into is a:
- Potential buyer. You never know where people are coming from.
- Potential connector. If everyone you meet knows 150 people (the average), imagine the possibilities. When you meet someone who is great at making connections between people, WOW!
- Potential friend or fan. Who can’t use more of these?
Become involved with an artist organization if it’s the right speed for you. If you are serious about selling your art, don’t waste your time in a group of hobbyists. You’ll quickly get frustrated in groups where you’re always a step ahead of everyone else.
Artist organizations can be your introduction to new opportunities that you might not otherwise hear about. In the right environment of professional artists, you will step up to challenges that you might not have confronted on your own.
It’s also worth your while to attend artist lectures at museums and galleries. In those venues, you have an opportunity to meet curators, donors, and collectors.
Do yourself a favor and connect with other entrepreneurs. I’ll bet you know plenty of entrepreneurs, though you might not have thought of them as valuable connections.
The E word might not feel like it applies, but it does. Anyone who owns his or her own business (you) is an entrepreneur and probably has a few experiences you can learn from.
Find entrepreneurs at small business meet-ups, chambers of commerce, and formal networking groups. Just search “networking group” + your location to find one nearby.
And then there is everyone else. If everyone you meet is a potential collector, connector, or fan, there are countless networking chances in your daily life:
- Kids’ school
- Spouse’s office
- Doctor/Dentist/Acupuncturist/Massage Therapist
- Hair stylist
- Hobby group
You never know how relationships might develop, so make the most of your contact with people.
Rather than give you a list of how to network effortlessly, I want 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.
1. Hanging 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.
2. Shoving your business card at people or seeing how many cards you can unload at a single event. Effective networking is about the quality of relationships, not the quantity.
3. Not remembering people’s names right after you’ve been introduced. Guess what? Saying “I’m bad with names” 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.
4. Talking only about yourself. People love to talk about themselves and will like you more if you focus the conversation on their interests.
5. Sounding anxious or needy. These are straight-out energy killers.
6. Not getting 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 mistake #7.
7. Not following 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.
Tell us about your networking escapades. Where do you meet people? What experiences have you had that we can learn from?