In the arts there are many that don’t feel that artists should hang out with others artists in case they steal their ideas, in fact that could be said among many different industries. That being said in my experience I have found exactly the opposite, whether I am attending a convention for cartoonists in a luxury setting, attending a local art gathering, or working with a local association I have found that I am always learning and helping others. Actually I am on the board for a group called Like Minded Business Networkers for that very reason, we all are working towards the same goal. Many join groups and associations to promote themselves and meet new clients but that strategy often back fire. If you join a group based on just meeting people with no connection then you may be missing the boat. I have friend that often says we deal with the people that we like and that is very true.
When I began my illustration business I didn’t know where to go to meet people and start networking. Often thinking about how to network with people is the worst way to join clubs and associations, that’s because you go in with large expectations and will look too needy in approaching people. I think if you are going to join a club or association then you should focus on some other aspect of the club, the meeting people will come later. For instance when i wanted to start showing my work I joined the Oakville Art Society in my area because they allowed members to show their work in group shows. Oh sure I met other artists, I learned techniques, I was given opportunities from being a member, but those were side benefits. My main goal was to show my work. I have been a member there for over ten years and have had multiple solo shows, have taught many courses, and made many connections for business that are still intact today.
When I began my consulting business I joined a safety organization called the Fleet Safety Council in hope that I would meet potential clients and I have. When I joined my goal was to keep myself educated about the industry and the safety world that I had become a part of. I knew I would meet people and I have gotten lots of business from the group, but my focus is on keeping up with the industry.
If you are looking for groups to join then try these ideas. Join groups that will give you education, opportunities, or experience. Be active in the group and participate, don’t be the invisible silent person in the back. Try joining a local group, a national group, and an international group related to your field. Last but not least stop trying to meet people, that will happen in its own, just go enjoy yourself! Sometimes when i go to my lunchtime meeting, I am not in the mood to meet anyone, sometimes I just go for lunch and that’s okay. At least I am being active!
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is an artist, author, consultant, and entrepreneur. He is the author of several books including, How to Start an Artistic Business in 12 Easy Steps, Driven to Drive, and Running by the Mile. You can learn more about Bruce and his companies at http://www.outridgeenterprises.ca