Talent and ability alone do not determine success. Building a network is also essential to growing a creative business.
You’ve probably seen this scenario before: an artist you know is incredibly talented and creates wonderful art, but doesn’t make a lot of sales. Sometimes this happens because the artist doesn’t take an active role in marketing or presenting their work to the world. However, it can also be the result of not having a network of people to help build connections and make referrals.
Networking is an activity that should be pursued on an ongoing basis. The people you meet through the process can be instrumental to your success. Get started with our article sharing 10 tips for networking effectively in person. Your local art community is the perfect place to start.
Artists are among the most giving people around, and often will share resources, feedback and opportunities with you. An artist salon is a wonderful source of support; check to see if any are taking place in your area. If not, consider joining with others to start one. This salon starter kit is a great resource for that.
The face-to-face factor is very important, because you will get to know other artists personally. They share your interest in improving their work, and making sales. And, many other attendees will be artists with a great deal of experience who can assist you if you are new.
Artists also congregate online. Facebook alone has hundreds of discussion groups that support artists of all types, from local to international. LinkedIn has many as well. Want to discuss ways to market your art or handmade work, or perhaps how to find an affordable printer to create reproductions? Looking for recommendations on the best places to sell online, or where to apply to a good art festival? Tap into these free resources and participate.
Collaboration is another result of successful networking. Artists may choose to work together on a project, share a booth, or create a strategic alliance that benefits both parties. Strategic allies usually have non-competing products but share a similar audience, and may act on each other’s behalf to increase the reach of their marketing efforts. For example, if you are in an alliance with another artist, you might write a blog article about their work, share their posts on social media, or mention them in your email newsletter. They can reciprocate to help promote you as well.
Are you looking for gallery representation, and want to know how galleries find artists? Check out this list, and note the number one method: recommendation from another artist. Another compelling reason to build your network!
There really is no substitute for meeting and becoming friendly with artists who are successfully doing what you would like to do. Networking is not a one-way street, though. It involves having a pay it forward attitude. Resolve to be of assistance to others before you expect results for yourself. Networkers who do this gain a reputation as a connector and are quickly appreciated by other people in the network. And as you help others, give referrals and give generously of your time, you will find that these efforts come back to you in the form of assistance from others.
Thinking of building your network? It helps to know what you are looking for in terms of introductions or referrals. A concrete idea is best. Saying “I’d like to meet people who want to buy my work” doesn’t really mean anything to other people, because they have no idea of your ideal customer. But if you can state that you would like to meet either a specific person or type of person (interior designers in your hometown, for example) then you are communicating clearly and are more likely to gain an introduction.
Have you grown your creative business through networking? What was your experience?