5 Face-to-Face Networking Essentials from Art Biz Coach

Here is another good re-published Blog post from Alyson B. Stanfield’s ArtBizBlog. If you haven’t signed up for her newsletter yet, I highly recommend it.

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Are you putting too much emphasis on the Internet when you could be benefitting from some good old-fashioned networking?

The value of face-to-face marketing is being drowned out by the cacophony of online marketing advice. I am just as guilty as the next advice-giver, but I’m going to start reminding you more frequently not only to get out of the studio but also to get out from behind your computer and meet real live people.

I recently returned from two days in the mountains for the Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) Summit.

By conference standards, this wasn’t a big one, but it was sold out. Two-hundred creatives under one roof helped each other solve problems, made connections, and exchanged business cards.

We dined together and, in the evening, walked from gallery to gallery like a clan of trick-or-treaters.

It was electric! And it’s not an experience you can duplicate online.

As someone who spends most of her time in front of her computer, I must remind myself what is required of face-to-face networking every time I venture out. Thought I’d share some observations with you.

1. Business Cards

Don’t go anywhere without business cards! I took 70 cards to the conference and came back with about half of them. I also collected numerous cards for people I wanted to stay in touch with.

Insider’s Tip :: When you exchange cards with others, make notes on them ASAP so you remember why you asked for them in the first place. Tomorrow is probably too late to recall your conversations with each person.

2. 10-Second Introduction

You have to be able to tell people what you do without putting them to sleep or monopolizing their time.

A good 10-second introduction is the result of trial and error. It doesn’t usually come easily, but only after seeing what works for you. Change it up! You know your introduction needs work when people don’t comment or ask further questions.

Insider’s Tip :: The goal of your introduction is not to share everything you do in 10 seconds, but to be interesting enough that people ask to hear more.

We practice 10-second introductions in the Cultivate Collectors class (next session: July 2012).

3. Images

You need words, but it’s always nice to have images to back up the words. At the CCI Summit, we decided the jewelers and fiber artist were lucky because they wore their art. Other artists need to find ways to show off their art in networking situations.

Insider’s Tip :: Get your images organized on your smart phone or tablet or carry a portable portfolio.When someone asks to see your work, you’ll be prepared.

4. Invitations

If people are interested in you, they’ll want to know what you have coming up and how they can participate.

I was mesmerized by a poetry performance at the CCI Summit. I later looked for the poet and asked where I could hear her perform. She said she put everything on Facebook, but it would have been more effective if she had handed me a list of upcoming events.

In contrast, I watched my friend Cynthia Morris do what she does so well. She carries stacks of promotional postcards for her upcoming excursions and pulls them out of her bag whenever she sees an opportunity to leave them on a table or post them to a bulletin board. (She also carries thumbtacks for these moments.)

Insider’s Tip :: Carry invitations or announcements with you at all times. You never know when you’ll have a chance to share.

5. Follow Up

It doesn’t do much good to network if you don’t follow up with new contacts. Making notes on business cards, as I suggest above, makes follow-up much easier.

When you get home, take action that is appropriate for each contact:

  • Write a personal note or email
  • Send a Friend request on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Add to your contact list and, if approval was given, to your email list; make notes in your database to help you remember each person

Insider’s Tip :: Following up is key to networking success. Without it, you become a collector of business cards – all talk, no action.

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