Five Basic Tips for Networking In The Creative Industry
Extraordinary portfolios. Professional show reels. Elite education. If getting into the creative world were as easy as building up an impressive CV and applying in the traditional way, chances are we would all be artists.
But the reality is that it all starts with who you know, and who they know. Building up your networking circle is one of the most crucial necessities of forging your way into the industry, and although talking your way may sound intimidating, it only is if you let it be. Here are five tips to help you get started:
1) Carry Business Cards
While it sounds old-fashioned, it is one of the easiest and most professional ways to share your information. Networking’s about leaving an impression, not spending five minutes scratching your contact details into an old napkin or nervously unlocking your phone. A business card should contain all the info needed for others to contact you, or provide info on where to see more or your work (e.g. personal website, social media sites, etc).
Keep it sharp, concise, and include a good headshot (so it’s easier for other’s to recognise you). Keep a pile in every bag you own, a few in your wallet, even in your pockets so that you always have some on the ready; remember: you never know who you might meet!
2) Adopt Positive Body Language
Networking is like a very discreet, low-key audition, where decisions are formed in seconds. In a room of so many people, you want to be remembered not just by what you have to offer, but also by how you present yourself.
Keep a good posture, relax your shoulders, and always give a firm handshake. There is no golden rule in the perfect “body language to success”, but the general idea is for you to really demonstrate, before even speaking, that you have something valuable to offer. Put yourself in the other person’s position: would you prefer to make business with a slouched, soft-spoken, fidgety person, or with someone who matches your tempo, makes good eye contact, and speaks clearly?
3) Have Confidence in Your Product
It’s a crowded room and everybody is there for the same reason: to make acquaintances and springboard their careers. But how can you stand out?
First impressions count –all creatives know this. But usually confidence refers to how you perceive yourself physically. In this case, confidence is about how well you believe in your craft, and in your ability. Sharing your work to the world is scary, but only if you doubt yourself.
If you are proud of what you created, and are truly passionate about what you do, it will translate to others and they will be more likely to want to work with you. This doesn’t give you free reign to be arrogant or conceited, but it will show others that you have a vision of success for your product.
4) Be Proud of the Industry You Represent
Art is important; you will meet people who will disagree with you on this. You will meet those who argue that medicine and law are far more respectable professions, and that these contribute far more to society. And whilst they are crucial, art is in everywhere you look: in the design of a car, in the clothes you wear, in the furniture you use. Remember: “without creativity there would be no innovation”.
The problem is that today’s society has made it easier to stylise the industry as a luxury rather than a necessity, and has made it easy for us to oversee just how much we need art emotionally and physically. “Imagine society without the civilising influence of the arts and you’ll have to strip out what is most pleasurable in life – and much that is educationally vital.”
Whatever reason you have to make art (for yourself, to inspire others, etc), the industry is far from futile, and you should not be ashamed to want to be a part of it.
5) Talk, talk, talk!
Networking is not only about going to events hosted just for that purpose. When you go to a theatre show, or a gig, or any event related to the industry, get to being social. It’s about putting yourself out there and making connections. You don’t have to “force” your work onto people, but be open and friendly and give them something to remember you by. Most importantly, never undervalue anybody, because they may have knowledge or connections or creative tools of use to you!
Xiomara Meyer is a drama and creative writing graduate with an interest in psychology and the slightly bizarre. Samples of her work can be found here.
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.