Networking As A Creative Professional: 10 Tips for Success
As a creative person, establishing a professional network can be an effective way to create business connections. Networking can also aid in finding potential clients or discovering like-minded people who share similar interests. Do you want to learn how to network effectively? Interested in accelerating your career growth or establishing meaningful connections with other individuals in your industry? Just keep reading!
In this post:
- Why Networking is Important for Creative Professionals
- 10 Networking Tips to Build Connections In a Creative Industry
- Resources to Find In-Person & Virtual Networking Events
Why Networking is Important for Creative Professionals
Much like volunteering, the career benefits of expanding one’s professional network, are often overlooked. And we get it. For busy people, it can be hard to see the value in attending networking events, handing out your business cards, or sharing your social media profiles with new people. But while networking may not fit into your schedule on a regular basis, it is definitely something you should engage in from time to time.
Networking is important if you work as an artist, designer, photographer, developer, or in any creative field because it:
- can provide insight into your desired career path
- open up opportunities to get career advice or find mentorship
- can lead to opportunities to drum up business, which can be especially beneficial if you are a freelancer
- helps creatives get out of their studios to meet people and establish new connections
- assist with building relationships with professional organizations
And that’s not all! Networking can be beneficial in other ways – like job hunting or searching for your future best friend, for instance.
“Networking is marketing. Market yourself, your uniqueness, what you stand for.”Christine Comaford-Lynch, American Businesswoman and Entrepreneur
10 Networking Tips to Build Connections in A Creative Industry
1. Always keep your career goals in mind.
While meeting like-minded people can certainly lead to beautiful personal connections, the overall goal of networking is to further your career. So, don’t just attend events for the sake of it. Instead, focus on how the event will benefit your career in the long run. And keep your goals in mind when establishing a strategy around networking – trust us, having a game plan can help you build networks that stay connected over the years.
Not sure where to start with your networking strategy? Ask yourself the following questions to get your thoughts flowing:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Do I want more paid commissions?
- Do I want to engage in conversations around topics that impact my industry?
- Am I searching for companies that suit my skills and personality?
- Do I need to find a partner for my next business venture or current startup project?
- What types of events do I want to attend? How many people do I feel comfortable making an introduction to in one night?
These are just a few of the many questions you can ask yourself to get a better understanding of your networking goals. But this is certainly not a comprehensive list, the questions could go on and on. The point is to get an idea of your career needs.
2. Establish a professional social media profile.
Networking happens online, every single day. So, it’s important to have a professional social media profile to connect with others – like a LinkedIn profile, for instance.
Through the strategic use of social media, you may be able to connect with an old colleague, find people involved in a cause you care about, spark a conversation with an influential industry professional, or find more networking opportunities – the possibilities are endless!
3. Look for opportunities to connect with people who make an impact.
When it comes to successful networking, it’s not about how many people you meet or if you talk to all of the other attendees at any given networking event. The true success in building a network lies in the value of the contacts.
So, evaluate your career goals then seek out folks who can help you reach them. And whenever possible, do your part to help another budding professional as well. After all, a professional network thrives when all parties are engaged and working toward mutual benefits.
4. Visit local businesses often.
You may not have to go far to build up your list of contacts. In fact, you can meet new people in your own neighborhood – especially if you live in a city.
So, if you’re searching for new clients or groups of people to engage in conversation with, consider visiting local spots where people with similar interests may hang out – this could be a cafe, local museum, bar, or co-working space.
5. Tap into your current network – especially when job hunting.
Sometimes, the best career advice can come from someone you already know. So, don’t overlook your current network as you search to expand it. After all, even an old connection was established for a reason. The folks you already know may be able to help you create future connections.
6. Consider the passions you have outside of your current career.
Like most people, you are a dynamic individual with vast interests. So, when it comes to networking, don’t forget that! Explore your varied interests to find a group of people who get you and who can potentially help you with your personal and professional life.
7. Don’t forget your business cards.
While the art of the business card may be lost on some, don’t forget its importance. It is a visual reminder that your creative services are available and it encapsulates all of your contact information in one place. So, consider carrying a healthy stack of biz cards with you wherever you go.
8. Gone completely digital? Set up an easy-to-access QR code on your phone.
For folks who have truly sworn off business cards for good, we get it. But you still need a way for folks to get your contact information. So, why not create a QR code that sends folks to your online portfolio or your social media profile?
9. Find creative ways to support others.
Once you’ve established connections or built networks, it’s important to do your part to maintain them. One way to do that is to support others with your time, and talents, or by taking time to talk about your field of expertise. Who knows? You just may inspire someone to join an organization, study a particular field, or attend an event that could change their outlook on their industry.
10. Stay on top of industry changes, trends, and innovations.
In order to be a productive member of a creative network, it is imperative that you stay on top of your industry’s many changes. Doing so will not only make you more confident when engaging in conversations at industry events, it can help you provide immense value to anyone you connect with.
Resources to Find In-Person & Virtual Networking Events
Networking is all about meeting people, talking to exchange ideas or gaining more insight into an industry, and swapping contact information for future collaboration. So, there is no short list of places where you can meet people that will add value to your life.
But here are a few places to explore:
- Events hosted by your current organization
- Social events such as holiday parties
- Craft or trade shows
- Fundraising events like charity galas or silent auctions
- Online classes or career boot camps
- Co-working spaces
Not sure where to find those types of events? Check out these resources:
Meetup is a social media platform geared towards connecting folks for in-person and virtual events. So, if you’re looking for like-minded folks to chat with about your hobbies, creative work, or career interests, it’s definitely worth taking a gander.
Eventbrite is an event management service that can be used to search for virtual and in-person networking events around the world. Users can filter by date, location, and cost. And with a plethora of free and low-cost events happening in most cities, it should be included in your networking strategy.