How To Hack Networking As A Maker
Written By Sophie Holt.
As the owner of a craft business, its easy to fall into the trap of feeling isolated in your profession. This is most likely down to the fact that being a maker can often feel like a solo mission – constantly being in the studio on your own and continually self promoting. However, it really doesn’t have to feel this way! I am sure you have heard of the intimidating term ‘networking’, a seemingly scary concept on the surface. However, all networking really is is making connections, interacting with other people just like you and understanding that being a maker doesn’t always have to be a lonely working life.
Traditionally, networking is face to face and purely about introducing yourself to potential clients, companies and other makers. Events, exhibition launches and workshops are perfect settings for networking – as a maker keep up to date with upcoming events within your area to meet other creatives just like you. Also keep targeted maker meet ups on your radar (at Manchester Craft and Design Centre we have annual maker meet ups that are perfect hubs for networking – follow our social media for updates).
When beginning to craft a creative network, the initial ‘small talk’ can sometimes feel uncomfortable but if you relax and go in with a game plan it will soon come to you naturally. Its important to always network in a professional manner and leave a lasting impression, whether its a potential customer or another maker you could see yourself collaborating with, make sure you ask the right questions and leave them with a business card so you can keep in touch after the event. You may feel more comfortable networking individually or within a bigger a small group – make sure you experiment with what is most effective for you and your process of getting your message across. After this initial communication you can follow up later with an email or phone call to make sure you are on their radar. You aim is to create a community around you that will benefit you and your work as it progresses.
Although effective, networking doesn’t have to be about face to face. In fact it is sometimes more effective to adjust your process of networking to best fit your preference of communication. After all if your process of networking isn’t sustainable for you it won’t be effective in the long term. Online connections, nowadays, are just as valid and effective as those in real life. Joining maker network groups (like the Manchester Craft and Design Maker Network) are a great way to widen your creative circle and connect with other makers. If you aren’t already part of this group click above to join now!
If you don’t already have a social media account for your creative business make sure you set one up, as effectively using this can be the absolute key to online networking success. Instagram and Twitter are great for updating your customers/potential customers with your latest pieces and exciting projects. Begin your networking journey by following and interacting with creatives you would like to align yourself with. This will put you on their radar and in return make people who follow them aware of you also. By simply liking their posts or leaving a comment you can develop valuable interactions. Using hashtags is another good way to pull together a group of like minded people or perhaps sourcing a group of people attending the same event or who are interested sort of craft as yourself.
The aim of networking is that it is mutually beneficial for both parties! Remember being successful at networking is all about give and take. For example, if you are networking with another creative be as interested within their practice as you would hope they would be in yours. Perhaps the biggest tip would be to follow up, as if you don’t do this you are effectively wasting the time you spent on networking in the first place. Simple things like following the person on social media or sending a quick email after your initial meet up does the trick! This way your meeting is more memorable and this lends to a better connection for the future.
Next Maker Meet Up at MCDC: 12 JULY 2018 6-8PM.
Join us for an evening of informal networking at Manchester Craft and Design, event is FREE.