I will be completely honest. I have to force myself to get out and network. That will surprise some of the people who know me best, but like a lot of creative people, I am a loner by nature. I am my own best friend. But flying solo will get you only so far. You need several co pilots to help you reach new heights in your career. It is so much harder and takes so much longer if you try to go it alone in creative careers. It is a myth that if you do good work you will be discovered. You need the help of influential people.
Certainly I would prefer to hide out an write all day. But so many of the breaks I have had come from networking that I decided a long time ago to do a little ‘reach out and touch someone’ every day. Inviting them to tell their story on my website. An hour a day keeps the real job away is what I say. The time you invest in getting to know other’s stories will pay off tenfold. Force yourself to make the time to connect with people. At the very least get out and talk to other creative people. They can point you in the right direction or provide leads you never would have known about otherwise. I never pass up a chance to meet people. You never know. It could be life changing.
Another reason we don’t network is we are too busy doing work for existing clients. The only problem with that is, nothing lasts forever. You need to be on the lookout for new business, or all of a sudden you may be facing a drought. The goal of networking is to form committed, long term, mutually beneficial relationships with people who you can help and who can help you. It could be as simple as staying in touch or as involved as sending them referrals. Make it a priority at the beginning of each month to connect with people. Set a goal of how many people you will meet, new clients you will connect with and win over, old clients you will contact, and key people to call. Get out and be seen. Even if you don’t want to meet new people, stay close to people in your orbit. Treat your friends like gold. They are ‘money’. Stay in touch. Be there for them. Remember important dates. Attend their openings, parties, etc. It is called long term loyalty. Find friends that encourage you, that cause you to stretch what you think you can do, get you out of your comfort zone. Keep in mind, the goal is not to see how many people you can contact but to connect with key people and develop a relationship that over time will benefit you both. Another consideration is to consolidate all of your efforts on getting to know a few key people in your industry (and the media) who have a large network of their own.
Is Your Net Working ?
Networking should be one of your highest priorities, because it is one of the most effective and yet inexpensive forms of marketing. Networking is power. Power to reach out and get things done or connect with people who can get it done for you, people who can open doors for you. Most of the success people have achieved in the creative business is a result of relationships. People like to work with people who not only consistently do good work, but whom they know and like (and trust). It is the difference between a cold call and a warm call. Which sounds better? Exacly. You have a better chance to get in on the cool projects, projects you want to work on. Knowing the right people can lead to work that is fun, fulfilling, and the first step to launching your career. If you can get to one key person and realy WOW them, they will tell their influential friends. When someone else is singing your praises, it is music to people’s ears. The reason is that people prefer to work with those they know and trust and are comfortable with. They can be your champion. Make a good impression with people you work with so they will want to work with you again.