If you are working in your own in your home, studio or solo office, it is critical to get yourself out into the world, meeting new people from your industry. You must know what is going on and who is shaping the scene in your area and beyond.
Some of this can and should be done online but don’t forget it is important to attend openings, go to talks, meet-ups, networking events or performances among your peers. Not sure where to start? If you are in or near a place with a strong arts community, they may have an email or online list of events for the arts. Another good source is eventbrite, local news/magazine websites, or meetup.com. Don’t see anything interesting? Start up your own gathering! Make a monthly crit group, book club, film viewing session. Pin up posters or hit up social media to publicize.
It can be easy to get lost in your own thoughts or visions but history shows us that the culture around us can and should be a source of inspiration.
If you are the type of person who is intimidated by networking or feel like it is forced - you are not alone. Go into it knowing that most people feel that way until they start getting into a good conversation and understand the value of connecting with others. Don’t forget to always have business cards on hand!
The following is a true story… and if I can continue to get back out there after this, so can you. Just go for the white wine, not red…
I went to my first designers networking event and was ready to meet new creatives - except I was nervous as heck. So I went to the bar first and found some red wine. Thinking ‘Ok, I’ve got this’ not five minutes later, someone knocked into my elbow from behind and my drink went flying! Somersaulting in the air, it went all over a guy in a white shirt and khakis… legitimately head to toe. I turned around and the person who knocked me had dashed, so it looked like I was a lone culprit. Mortified, I offered to pay for dry cleaning or start spotting with soda water. Luckily he was a good sport, but let’s just say I didn’t stay long after that. I did however, force myself to not let that stop me from attending other events. A wine spill wasn’t going to define my future.
Countless events later, I've built a solid relationship with artists, designers and entrepreneurs that have led to new opportunities. So go forth and mingle! If you haven’t signed up as a free CLW member, it is a great place to start.