Last week, we posed the question “Do You Enjoy Networking?” to our RB Blog community and got some great feedback about how you all feel about making friends, rubbing elbows, swapping info, and more with other artists. Is networking about relationships? Is it about getting ahead? Is it about your needs? Is it about the needs of others? Is it about creating a community?
Is it about anything?
It’s not only necessary, it’s important
The only networking I have ever done is on Red Bubble and this I enjoy immensely – have made lots of
acquaintances who I am quite sure I shall never be able to meet and have met a few locally who I think I can now number among my friends. It is good to communicate with like minded people without expecting it to lead to something lucrative.
call me an old soul (I’m only 22) but I do enjoy networking. A professor once told me to never throw out a business card-even if you think that person’s business has nothing to do with you! I still believe that in some cases it’s about “knowing the right person”. You never know where or when you will make a connection that will benefit you.
I do think networking goes hand in hand with being an artist especially if you do some commercial work or sell merch like we do here. My only issue is time and Im not that great at it. I work a full time job and have a kid so working, building my illustration presence, spending time with my kid, and than craming in time to network? Its nuts. I need a sales person who works on commission who can sell me cause also have a tendency to under sell myself……Long story short networking is a must but I feel some of us need assistance on that front
I am not one who is good at small talk. Can’t go to a party and just make small talk with perfect strangers. That being said, I have done pretty well at networking, by using my skills, being myself and through service. I have been very active in my professional organizations, in volunteer and elected positions. Through that, I have gotten to know people I never dreamed of meeting. Some became friends but most simply acquaintances. But people knew me through my professional positions. This was very helpful when I went to work for a large corporation and at meetings could produce a card for someone they were looking at talking to or who could give them good advise. It has worked well for me. Networking when done for the real relationships rather than just getting something, being genuine rather than phony can help one to feel a part of the greater picture. It is personal and I fear that the internet connections lack that personal touch.
“Do you enjoy networking?” Just about as much as I’d enjoy lancing a blister on my finger with a rusty axe. :(
Like many here I am very shy and introverted (pretty much socially awkward) and I never ever indulge in networking, purely because to me it seems too sycophantic. I could never fake a relationship to further my own self-seeking ends, but these days a lot of people say it is the best way to get a job/career. On the contrary I do technically ‘network’ as I meet new people through mutual interests/hobbies, I’m basically saying I would hate to kiss someone’s ass to further myself.
Even if you’re an introvert, it’s got to be done
“I’m definitely naturally very introverted and softspoken so a lot of times its not networking but being heard over the hundreds of other people shouting for attention. Unstructured interactions are their own level of Hell but still necessary if you know where to go to network successfully. The problem is finding that place.”
I tend to be an introvert but have learned over many years
networking is a good thing. I made my living in the field of Information
Technology and learned early in my career that weather I wanted to or not, I
had to learn to work with and communicate with people. For me, the people
communication skills came as hard if not harder than computer skills. However,
once I gained some comfort with people communications, dealing with people at
all levels and functions became easier.
I’m now attempting to gain some recognition with my painting
and I’m again learning the importance of people communications. People
communications requires effort and perhaps risk, but if the effort is made and
the risk is taken, more times than not, the results are rewarding and thus
enjoyable. I just have to constantly remind myself that it is up to me to reach
out and when I do the responses typically are positive. So yes, for me networking
is a good thing. I just have to accept the responsibility of working at it to
make it work.
It’s cool, but it takes up too much time
Networking is necessary in this day and age and is an important way to connect with people for numerous reasons. I enjoy networking to market my art but find it takes up a lot of time when I would rather be painting! it is definitely a juggling act. Sites such as Facebook are a great way to market your work and using links to ones’ web page/s (and Redbubble) brings more interest and sales. On saying that I still take my business cards with me wherever I go, and if the occasion arises, people do take them as a means of contact. I have made many good friendships through networking and even though I may never meet some of them they have become virtual friends for life.
But remember, networking is not selling
As a friend here in Chicago with true business acumen put it, networking is letting people know what you do, nothing more or less. Be yourself while you do it. It’s just letting people know you are here and able to help if they need what you do. They, in turn, may tell you about what they do. It isn’t selling, it isn’t advertising, and it isn’t about convincing them of anything. Even meetings set up for networking are about that, and it is considered bad form to get into actual selling at such meetings.
That made it a lot easier to say, “I do graphic arts work for websites.” It doesn’t seem to make saying I am an artist any easier, but that is a problem of confidence, not networking. If I ever got out to see people instead of working at home it would make networking a LOT easier! :)
And actually, it’s not really “networking,” it’s “building relationships”
I love talking about photography to anyone who’ll listen, and my enthusiasm has landed me some interesting and unexpected projects. What I don’t like is this idea of retrospectively labelling this as ‘networking’ because I think there’s a difference between talking passionately about something you’re passionate about … and talking passionately about something you’re passionate about selling. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, but I think that’s where the line between art-for-arts-sake is blurred. I don’t like the idea of putting on a ‘networking hat’ and ‘networking shoes’ and going out with the express intent of networking… but that’s not for me. I’m happy to talk about photography anytime though!
Networking is relationship building. If others around you know you are good at what they need you to do for them and you prove to be reliable, then your networking.
Id like to see the stereo type of business men hitting a few rounds of golf and passing business cards around like cough drops go away. It leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths.
As for networking going away, id hardly think so. It is just changing evolving. Lot of which has gone online, adding advise to a forum post like this is away of poking your head in the collective cloud known as the internet and making connections.
Will people still go and have coffee to talk about the project? I think that will certainly be so.
As for drumming up new business I think it will still happen. Though I agree with the post in thinking that it will be much less.