If you are a member of Linkedin, you probably know what professional networking is all about. At Linkedin, artists can network with professionals from all walks of life, including curators, gallery owners, web designers, marketing experts, and more. This is useful in establishing connections in certain fields.
But, the main disadvantage of relying on Linkedin is that it takes a huge time toll to establish good contacts. Artists may have to spend countless hours looking for and building relationships, and maintaining them.
Most artists would rather spend time in their studio than weeding through potential clients and contacts.
I’m not saying that Linkedin is not useful, because it is. But, the better alternative to Linkedin is already built professional networks which have connections already established. Such groups exist, and there may even be one in your area.
How to Find Professional Networking Groups
These days, it is very easy to find groups of artists and business people to network with. Just do a simple search on the largest search engine, Google. Type in “professional networking group” followed by your area, which can be a city, town, state, province, etc. You may find one right away. Also, you will maybe notice that some of the results come from a site called Meetup. This is a site for finding groups of people with common interests who meet to share ideas.
Type in art for the topic, and your area in the second box. I typed in New York just for illustration purposes.
You will notice quite a few art type groups, and when their next meeting will be.
Benefits of Networking Marketing Groups
- They help to develop interpersonal skills. You will meet many people that are interested in the same thing - establishing life-long contacts. You will learn how to interact with them.
- Networking groups are very efficient. If you need help in a certain area, you can enlist the help of certain qualified people in your group.
For example, get legal advice from a lawyer, and website assistance from a web designer.
- You will become more confident in yourself, and your place in the group. People will come to you for help in a certain area, just as you would go to them.
- You may possibly be hired for an art related job. Many times, jobs are obtained by having the right connections. If someone who hires sees you as an asset to their company because of your background in design, photography, etc., they may want to hire you.
- Networking with the right people may lead to art sales, and help to get good testimonials about your artwork.
Friends of Kevin – Networking Group for Artists
One such networking group is Friends of Kevin. This group is run by Kevin Willet, and allows networking between artistic, non profit, and the business communities. There are many benefits to belonging to this and similar groups. Artists can connect with those in the group who can help them promote their art business, such as interior designers, website designers, marketing and social media specialists, and more. Memberships are often very limited to further ensure your success. Friends of Kevin only allows 300 clients. To find out more about this professional networking group, please visit Friends of Kevin.
Who should artists look for to have in their network?
Family, friends, and co-workersThese are people who have known you for a while, and can be some of the best supporters. Have them on your newsletter list, and always let them know what is happening in your art career. Many contacts may come from friends of friends who you may not know.
People who buy from you nowThese are people who have purchased from you in the past. Maintain a relationship with them not only to hope for a repeat buyer, but also to ensure that you possibly get referrals. For example, if someone asks them where they can find a good artist for a certain job, they may mention your name.
Other ArtistsMeet with other artists in your area and share ideas on where to network, learn about general trends, and maybe get some valuable advice. You will be surprised at how much more effective teamwork is than doing it all on your own.
Art Galleries, Curators, and Art ConsultantsThese people should definitely be in your network. Art galleries and consultants will help find buyers for your art. Even if they do not represent you, it may be helpful to have them on your list.
Art BuyersThese are the people who typically buy art from artists. They can include interior decorators, business owners, hotel and restaurant owners, and others. Make friends with them by attending as many art show openings as you possibly can.
The mediaIt always helps to have the media on your side. These can be local newspapers, television stations, radio shows, art magazines, and bloggers. By befriending these, you may receive free publicity from time to time.
What type of networking is Best – In person or on the internet?
These days, many friendships begin on the internet. But, by far the best connections are made in person. Take part in professional networking groups and attend art show openings. Its easier to trust people by talking with them face to face.
How to interact with potential contacts
First off, greet them and let them know your name. Show you are interested by looking them straight in the eye. Talk about what you do, and how it can help them. Also, mention some of your skills and experience. Prepare general things to say beforehand, and keep it short, and to the point, so as not to bore the listener. But, always keep it natural and change what you say depending on the person. When you are finished saying what you have to say, be polite and ask them what they do, and listen attentively.
For artists, it may be helpful to have a few ACEO sized images ready to show them to help spark conversation, and make it more personal. One other thing – always have a business card to hand to them, preferably with an image of your art printed on it.
Creating a network of contacts takes time and effort on your part. Focus on establishing good relationships with those who will help further your art career, than with others who may not be so helpful. The point is to establish your own network, whereby you help each other. Make it an enjoyable experience, and you may gain some great friends as well!
Are you a member of a professional networking group? Please tell us about it, and how it has helped with your art promotion.