Our partners from SSSHAKE network have some great advice for networking…
Creatives, it’s time to step up your networking game.
Historically, the artist was secluded in his studio waiting for his patron or master to give him work. Although artists did not belong to the lowest social class, the myth of the starving artist is still culturally present today. Brought by the concept of ‘poet maudit’ and consolidated by 19th century Parisian artists’ ‘boheme’ lifestyle, the idea that the real creative genius only comes from starving outcasts is still dominant in our culture.
Today, this heritage is still underlying in the way things operate. From clients’ referral to agents, creatives across industries still have a tendency to rely solely on others to build their own contact network. Proactivity and self promotion are often considered dirty words in the art world.
“If you try to sell yourself too hard, that probably means you are not that good” or “if you are good enough, other people will take care of the selling part for you” are common beliefs among artists. STOP.
Proactivity and self promotion are often considered dirty words in the art world.
Yes, self promotion is difficult. Especially in a creative career that is exposed to moments of doubt. Yes, if you ask another person to sell your work for you, it is very likely that the external person will sell it better than you. It is a matter of objectivity in the sale pitch. However, in the entrepreneurial age, self promotion and networking are vital to kickstart a career.
Networking skills are essential for creative minds to unlock unexpected opportunities that will lead them to extend their practice to new areas and of course to get more jobs.
However, in the entrepreneurial age, self promotion and networking are vital to kickstart a career.
The landscape is changing, the creative industries are booming. Creative agencies can now reach the size of corporations and it is possible for many creators to financially thrive without compromising on their talents. Although the creative sector economic value and activity has increased steadily for the past years, large agencies are still getting most of the cake and it is difficult for freelancers and small businesses to compete against them.
Thankfully, the Internet changed the creative world, by giving an unseen visibility to everyone with access to it. But this digital environment also creates a vivid awareness about the competitive landscape that can be overwhelming when starting out a creative career, especially as a freelancer. On the top of that, remote workers offer extremely competitive rates that create a general undervaluation of creative services (online and therefore offline). It does not come as a surprise that many creatives have experienced the imposter syndrome…
In a saturated global creative market where talents play the ‘who is the cheapest game’ and where more and more resources are freely available across the web, the rules have changed. Client loyalty is rare in our digital world where we are constantly contacted by other service providers and overloaded with information. What will make the difference is often not how skilled you are, but how wide and strong your network is. The people you know trust you, and that trust is a real competitive advantage.
The people you know trust you, and that trust is a real competitive advantage.
Unfortunately, the importance of networking is not taught in art schools leaving creatives with an unfair disadvantage in the business side of their industries. That is the reason why we create safe places both online and offline for creatives to grow their network, share skills and foster collaborations.
At SSSHAKE, our mission is to address misconceptions to help creatives think like entrepreneurs and therefore, to thrive in their career development.
The power of networking doesn’t lay within talking to a person who will directly offer you a job or buy your art. It is about extending your network in order to spread awareness about your expertise as far as you can, while unlocking unexpected collaboration opportunities along the way.
It is [all] about extending your network in order to spread awareness about your expertise as far as you can, while unlocking unexpected collaboration opportunities along the way.
My personal takeaways for creative networking
- Be a giver not a taker — When giving without expecting in return, you often get way more back than what you can imagine. And in case it doesn’t come back… Well you can never be mad at yourself for helping someone out!
- Focus on building meaningful relationships — The greatest benefits of networking will unfold in the long run. Always follow up with your collaborators and keep your connections updated about what you are working on.
- Be open minded — That goes without saying that being open minded opens many doors, both on a professional and personal level. Don’t turn away people because their ideas seem strange in the first place. You always learn the most by being exposed to different perspectives.
- Explore, experiment, have fun — We are lucky to be part of the creative industries where breaking rules is advocated. Go out of your comfort zone and don’t hesitate to try new things. Go to events, meet people from other industries, show your work and share your vision…
- Be yourself — Whatever your personality type is, you can’t go wrong with networking. If you are a social person you will be able to build a large network easily. If you are not that social, focus on building strong relationship with a smaller number of people, and keep it growing at your own rhythm, it will be as effective.
“I am a part of all that I have met” AL Tennyson
By Valentine del Giudice