Become a Networking Ninja. Learn why you need to be building quality relationships 24/7/365

I’ll be doing a lot of networking this fall, as everyone turns indoors and a steady flow of art openings, exhibitions and trade events start popping up on my business calendar. I’m really looking forward to building some new relationships and strengthening some old ones! What kind of networking do you have planned for this fall?

In this post I’ll be talking about networking and why every artist should become a networking ninja.

Remember, networking doesn’t have to be about large events with tons of people handing out business cards or mingling at crowded public events. If you’re the shy type, look for passive networking opportunities such as small dinner parties, talking to  someone on the bus, or chatting it up at the field during your kids next soccer game. New and exciting opportunities are all around us!

Regardless of whether you’re an established artist or emerging artist you need to be networking on a regular basis.

Why Emerging Artists Need to Network:

• Establish business contacts at all levels: other artists, interior designers, gallery owners, art enthusiasts and collectors.

• Cultivate relationships with mid-career artists who might serve as mentors.

• Create referral networks with other artists with different creative styles or medium

• Share expenses, such as studio space or hosting a group art exhibition. Or share a booth at a trade show or art fair.

Tip: Remember to be yourself, be considerate and pleasant. If you are shy (or a bit anti-social) challenge yourself to meet at least one new person each week—your art business depends on it!

Why Established Artists need to Network:

• Strengthen your existing relationships.

• Maintain preeminence within the professional art community.

• To look for opportunities where you can help another artist. I believe in the old saying “what goes around, comes around”.

• Brainstorming and share creative ideas

• To increase your opportunity for invitations to participate in exhibitions at public galleries or museums.

Tip: Bring a “wing-man” with you to large events that may seem a bit intimidating. I have found great comfort “working a room” with a partner. It doesn’t have to be another artist, but try to choose a friend that is out-going and can help with building conversation.

Be Proactive

Activity is always better an inactivity. Look for events where you can meet new people, try different hang-outs—not necessarily where other artists hang out. Don’t overlook traditional face-to-face networking, which will always be most effective. People love to do business with people with whom they have formed a relationship.

Note: Although I am a strong believer in online social networking, many artists dedicate too much time to “socializing” within their Facebook or Twitter networks. Also, stop focusing on “how many people are following you” and start focusing on “who is following you”. Use your online networks to build smaller number, better quality relationships—you will find this more productive and more lucrative.

You have an opportunity to meet new and interesting people every day, they may not always have something to offer you directly, however, there might be—at some time in the future—a situation where they can point a valuable business connection in your direction by recommending you and talking about your art.

To your art business success!