We are in an age where your network, is your net worth. If you don’t have the followers, comments and likes, you aren’t a desirable commodity for the bigger players. You need a built-in fan base before you get the attention from the labels. You get it. You know the deal, but the problem is, if you believe networking is interacting on twitter or the gram, you will fall short on what really matters, the art of interpersonal relationships. Making connections in person is what will keep those numbers up and create real relationships. Don’t get me wrong – the interaction on social media is important. Make sure you are commenting on their comments, you are thanking people for their shares and following back. But, once you’ve spent the time culminating those exchanges, now get up from the laptop and go out to meet the people.
These people want to know what you can bring to the table. You may be hot shit on the internet, but no one wants to meet your ego so bring you, be a presence only you can be. Remember overdone strengths, become weaknesses. When you push confidence too far, it becomes arrogance. When you push “cool in the corner” too far, you become unapproachable. Non-verbal communication is 90% of people’s perception of you, and perception is reality. The one thing scrolling and tapping can’t replace is real human interaction (not yet at least, so let’s make the most of the non-cyborg age while we have it). When you meet people, remember this could be an opportunity to discuss exchanging services, art and/or contacts. Be courteous, be gracious. It’s always good to show whomever you talk to a genuine interest in them, your main goal may be to get your product out, but always treat networking as a conversation rather than a self-serving act.
Once you make these connections, follow up. Shoot an email thanking people for their time. The age of thank you notes is dissipating (whether snail mail, or via email), but it is a classy way to make yourself memorable. If you discussed an idea to collaborate, follow up and arrange a meeting. Once you arrange a meeting, turn up (on time). Just because we choose an alternative lifestyle to the typical nine to five, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be operating on the same professional level. When you get back to the lab, check your phone and thank your online following, but meeting in person is how you will build real relationships in the art community. In an age where popularity is gauged through a screen, be the one people want to invite out to events, the one people want to physically be around, the one that keeps the energy up even when the Wi-Fi goes down.