The Money and Careers section of the Boston Globe ran an article recently on networking and compared it to exercise. In other words, we all know that exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle and networking is important for a healthy career. Here are the networking tips shared by Dave Sanford and how they can be applied to your art business
- Develop a targeted list: Put together a list of everyone you know and want to know. Now is the time to put together your customer list as well as the list of galleries and stores you’d like to carry your work.
- Ask for introductions: Who do you want to meet that could help advance or support you in your art business? Who in your existing network can help with these introductions? Part of networking is meeting influential people.
- Prepare multiple messages: Develop your “30-second elevator speech;” a consolidated statement about who you are, what you do, and what makes your art unique. Now, can you consolidate this statement into a five to ten second version that your networking contacts can use on your behalf? Similarly, you may need different artist statements for different audiences.
- Attend events: Attend art events (exhibits, talks, etc.) Join local art organizations and associations. Don’t forget state art organizations and associations. Get acquainted with those in local and state government and support arts initiatives. The arts are often the first to get cut in down economic times.
- Use the power of online social networks: A lot has already been written on using online social networks. Suffice to say that artists must continue to think outside the box and use a variety of networks to make contacts, promote our art, and offer support and advice.
- Overcome shyness: I know; easier said than done, especially if you’re an introvert like me. Actually, one of the reasons I joined a local woman’s business network a few years ago was to help me become more comfortable with introducing myself to people. Practicing your introduction beforehand is helpful. When you find yourself in a room full of people, look for one person you can introduce yourself to and work from there.
- Set goals: Just as we set goals for our business, we need to include networking goals as part of our business. Some examples include emailing x-number of new contacts a week, meeting with friends and new contacts once a month, attending art or networking events once a month, and sending email announcements or e-newsletters once a quarter.
- Networking is a two-way street: Effective networking relationships are reciprocal. Sometimes you receive a lead or referral that may not match your needs but might be good for someone else. Pass it along. Remember it is nice to share.
- Be thankful and keep in touch: People are often best at networking when they need something. However, the most effective networkers are those who continually find ways to keep in touch with their contacts.