So today is officially networking day! My schedule is JAM PACKED with nothing but artistic mixers, business parties, and gallery events. While some artists feel that taking the time out for networking events distracts from their creative work, I feel that attending networking events are one of the most important things you can do for your career. How are people going to see your art if you don’t put it (and yourself) out there? I want to make sure as many people have access to my art as possible, so I’m always sure to attend at least a few mixers every month. Today’s events have me traveling to Burbank, Eagle Rock, and Downtown LA. Lucky for me that isn’t such a terrible commute.

Networking isn’t the easiest thing for me. I’m a naturally shy and reserved around people I don’t know and its hard for me to start conversations. Once you get me going, I’m generally fine. Still, I get really awkward when I have to strike up a conversation with a total stranger! Here are a few things that help me overcome my social anxiety and make the most of networking events!

-Remember, everyone is there to meet new contacts and make friends. This takes a bit of the edge off of starting a conversation. Also if it’s an even for a specific industry, theme, hobby, or topic, you probably already have something in common.

-Be yourself! People appreciate someone who is genuine and honest!

– Don’t forget your business cards, portfolio, tear sheet or other marketing materials! Be a good boyscout and always come prepared! Personally, I never leave the house without at least a few business cards on me. You never know who you’ll run into on your adventures!

-While your busy handing out your business card, don’t forget to grab other people’s cards as well! You want to be able to get in touch with your new contact in case they don’t get in contact with you. I mean, how many times have you heard “I’ll totally call you!” only to never hear back from that person? Don’t wait for a call that may never come! Take the first step, reach out to them with a friendly email! Say something like, “It was great to meet you at ______. Are you still looking for a designer to create_____ for you?”

-The best way to strike up a conversation is to pay someone a genuine compliment. Do you really like that woman’s purse or that guy’s shirt? Let them know! Chances are, you can continue into a conversation from there.

-Be polite! Manners go a long way with people. Remember to use your pleases, thank yous, and your welcomes like your mom taught you!

-Don’t sell yourself short! Talk about all your accomplishments! Its not bragging, people are there to meet other professionals so tell them about your work!

-The connection of a connection is my friend. Maybe this person doesn’t need your services right now, but they may know someone who does. Be sure to give them your card and tell them to pass it along to someone they know.

 

I hope that helps! Good luck with your networking!