How to network as a creative

Regardless if you love meeting new people or if the mere thought of walking in to a networking event makes you tired, there is a way for you to make networking work for you. A common misconception is that networking is a numbers game - meet as many people as you can, hand them your business card and sit back and wait. Even if this strategy could work, it is far from the best way to make real connections.


The point of networking is to expose yourself to situations where you can meet new and interesting people - where both sides can benefit from knowing each other.


Because of this, I quickly realised that the speed networking events I attended early on never led to anything. No one was listening, but everyone was talking.


Sound familiar?


I decided to start using a completely new approach and it has made me feel so much more comfortable. It has also led to a lot more work and real connections compared to anything I used to do. Let's have a look!



OVERVIEW:

  • Make friends, not contacts

  • Be generous

  • Attend the same event multiple times

  • Should you bring a friend?

  • Use your existing network

  • Go where your audience is

  • Look for partners, not just clients


Make friends, not contacts


Many people cringe when they hear the word "selling" but in reality, it is just story telling. You explaining how you help people with their business and why you love it - that's exciting!


If you arrive at a networking event attempting to make genuine friends, the questions you ask, your demeanour, everything will feel more inviting and natural.


When people feel more natural, they usually lower their guard and it becomes a lot easier to have a real conversation.


My favorite way to approach a big room full of people is to find one or two people and ask them for a coffee - away from the hype and selling mindset, things are much more relaxed. That way, you can have a longer conversation with a few people rather than feeling FOMO about not speaking to everyone. From the coffee meeting, you might get a new client, a partner or get a referral in the future.

Find one person and ask them for a coffee - away from the hype and selling mindset, things are much more relaxed.

Be generous


As a creative, you know a lot of things that can help people you meet. When you talk to someone for the first time, try to help them by giving tips and advice. This is the perfect way to show your expertise. If a person mentions that they have a certain plan or problem they are trying to solve, try to think about a podcast, book, website or maybe even person that could give good advice. This can also be a great opportunity to continue your conversation after the event. You can for example offer to send the recommendation in an email.


Attend the same event multiple times


Many networking events happen on a regular schedule. This is great because the people that show up are usually a mix of new and familiar faces. By going to the same events a few times, you can get to know the regulars a bit more closely. If you like me feel a bit uncomfortable butting in to groups of people at events, knowing a few people can be a great way to start conversations with new people.


Should you bring a friend?


If you feel uncomfortable attending networking events alone, bringing a friend can help. If you do, just make sure you don't end up just talking to each other. Try to introduce each other to other people and explain the value that the other person brings by telling a nice work story story about each other.


Use your existing network


Networking events can be a great place to meet new people but they are far from the only way. If you have a clear niche, your friends might know someone that would be interested in meeting up. When you both have a friend in common, it can be easier to build trust and a long lasting collaboration. No need to ask all your friends for referrals but if you need work, let people around you know what you can do, everyone loves to help!


Go where your audience is


Not every event will give you the best chance to meet someone that is right for your business. By knowing your value proposition and niche inside out, you can save time by only going to events where your potential customers could be. Sometimes you have to try a few different types before realising what works for you (and it is not always immediate) but try to pay attention to events you get more out of and cut away the rest.


Look for partners, not just clients


Networking is often associated with just finding new clients but why not collaborators? If you are an animator, find an illustrator with a great style that you can team up with! If you are a designer, find a developer and create something new, we can learn so many things from other disciplines so don't discard creative meet-ups.


Speaking of teaming up, why don't you come join our creative family! We are a very friendly bunch and we also post exclusive freebies just for the group. See you there!


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