If marketing is all about building awareness of you and your artwork, then it seems clear you’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity to connect with more and more people. Social media is a great way to do that, but what about good old-fashioned networking? You know, going out and meeting real people face to face.
Chances are good that there are numerous opportunities to meet people in your daily life, but if not you can actively seek out more options. For example, you’re probably a member of at least one organization, such as a place of worship, parent group, or service organization. If you’re not active in this way, you might consider joining one or more organizations where you’re likely to meet members of your target audience. That’s key!
If, like me, you’re a little intimidated by networking, there are things you can do to prepare yourself and build confidence. Here are some tips:
Where to Meet People
- Many people make a habit of volunteering their time to serve in community-based and charitable organizations, and you can, too. Lions Club, Rotary Club, arts organizations, museums, and local business organizations—any of these can be excellent places to meet art collectors. You’ll be creating new friendships while also helping your community, and most of these volunteer organizations only meet once a month so it won’t be a huge burden on your time.
- Many of these organizations also need guest speakers for their monthly meetings, and you can volunteer. If you’re not comfortable with that, you might want to join a Toastmasters chapter to practice your public speaking skills.
How to Introduce Yourself
- Be sincere when you’re talking to people. Nothing turns people off faster than someone who appears overeager to "sell, sell, sell."
- Let them know how friendly you are by shaking hands, smiling, and making eye contact.
- Once you’ve learned the person’s name, use it several times so that you cement it in your mind.
- Get the conversation started by asking the kind of questions that will let you establish some common ground and shared interests.
- Gradually probe to discover if they have any interest in your art. This is what’s known as “qualifying the prospect.” Obviously, focus your continued energies only on those who are interested.
- Always be prepared to share your artwork with people, perhaps through a portfolio you have stored on your smartphone.
- When you meet people who are interested in your art, be sure to get their contact information so you can follow up.
- Remember that networking is founded on being of mutual service to each other, so look for ways you might be of assistance to your new friends, too.
Nurture Relationships by Following Up
- At the very least, you should add your new friends to your e-newsletter list.
- You can also reach out to individuals by inviting them to meet for coffee or a meal, or even just give them an occasional friendly phone call.
- Be sure to invite these friends to any art exhibitions you’re participating in.
What are your tips for face-to-face networking? Let's connect!