Having recently been able to network with some really interesting (and arty) people, I thought you might like me to share some of my experience with you. I know that networking is harder for some people than for others. I know that I am incredibly lucky in that I am naturally sociable and enjoy exercising my interpersonal skills.
However, there are three things you can do to improve your own networking skills and connect with like-minded people whilst promoting your creative work or ideas.
1) If you sense that nobody is exactly comfortable making eye contact and polite ‘hellos’ are whispered under one’s breath, you have to realise that this could be to your advantage. Project confidence (even if you don’t have it) by looking people straight in the eye and smile politely. Needless to say that intense staring should be avoided. By all means, fake it till you make it!
2) Always carry business cards. Unfortunately these can be expensive. So if you are new to the game of networking, be interested in what others do and hone your listening skills. All people are driven by the need to feel verified. If what you hear is interesting and excites you, ask for their business cards or put yourself down on their mailing lists. This way you still come away with useful contacts and you can always follow up with individuals after the event.
3) Never ever judge a book by its cover or in this case never judge a person by their appearance. Be polite and be interested to hear from everybody. Chances are that if you move in the realm of creative business smartly dressed people wearing suits and ties will be rare. After all isn’t that why you like it? Give people the time of day (or night) and chances are they will do the same for you further down the line.
— ★BEBE ★ (@BeBeZWORLD) May 30, 2013
I think that anybody who ever tried it will agree that networking is not easy. This is especially true when you are stuck behind a craft stall or display table all day and have to wait for people to approach you. Even extroverts such as myself have to work hard at overcoming the initial awkwardness which tends to arise when a bunch of strangers mingle within a confined space and the ‘rules’ vary for each individual occasion.
Like with anything else, you get better at networking the more you do it. So don’t be scared. Get out there and see if there are any interesting connections to be made. I bet you’ll do better than you think. I would love to hear how you get on.
See you soon,