So you’re an independent artist or freelancer with accounts and profiles set up in all the relevant social media networks. You’re off to a good start. Here are 5 tips to take that online social media network you’re building and leverage it to create real-life connections.
First of all, you have to know what you’re going for. Are you trying to network within the gallery world? To book gigs? Do you want to expand your face-to-face network with other artists? Starting out with clear intentions will dictate what comes next. It’s important to be flexible and open to unplanned opportunities, but start with something solid and take it from there.
Ask yourself the big questions: “Who am I?” “Who do I want to be?” “Who do I want to be like?” You are the product, so tell people what box you’re in. Describe yourself in a few words — it can be scary, but remember, this is a business account. While it may have a lot of your personality, it’s ultimately meant to get your work seen. Choosing “cinematographer, marathon runner, and pizza freak” as your profile blurb doesn’t mean you don’t love yoga too, right? If your account has focus and a clear-headed goal, you’re more likely to attract the right like-minded people, whether they’re collaborators, buyers, or fans.
Research and Identify
Empower yourself by knowing a variety of players in your creative space. Use hashtags, Google searches, word of mouth — you name it. Then hit the screen and find their social profiles. They can be a combination of well-known people and up-and-coming artists. Just keep searching until you find people and accounts that fit your goals, and then follow them.
Who else is a potter in Evanston, IL? Are there other deep-techno producers in Bushwick, Brooklyn? I bet you can find them. I use hashtags both to get followers and to add myself to the indexes of #producer and #singer. I even throw in #gearporn now and then. Hashtags add your content to a wall, a mood-board of sorts, usually with a group of similar-thinking folks. Put in a hashtag and you’re forever linked back to your interest, expertise, and social profile. You’re on the grid and in a network. This is just one of many ways for someone to find you online.
Post with Purpose
Posting to your own accounts should be ongoing and done simultaneously with the rest of this. When you get to the step of reaching out, you want to have a clear picture of who you are, what you do, and your personality that’s ready to present. Keep these profiles up to date with fresh ideas or announcements about what you’re working on. If you went you an event, mention that as well. Show your relevance.
Find a comfortable and sustainable online posting rhythm and voice. If being connected to a device gives you anxiety or feels negative, there’s no need to force it. Try logging on once every few days at first; experiment with styles and tones of voice for your captions. Feel free to delete something a day later if it doesn’t fit your developing vision. Your social networks are a good place to brand yourself in real time, with the ability to go back and edit later on.
Now that you’ve identified people you want to meet, keep following, liking, commenting, tagging, and reaching out. Have fun with it. Ask questions and stay in tune with what they’re posting. Be sensible, though — don’t bombard them with comments and stay polite. Over time, they’ll begin to recognize your name.
Also keep posting, reading, and learning everything you can about the other folks in your creative space. If people leave comments on your posts, react postively. That’s what you’re there to do. There is a whole community of curious artists out there who would be happy to hear what you have to say.
Make the Request
When the time is right, send a message using their preferred method of contact. Tell them you’re a fan of their work and would like to work together, or maybe just that you’d like to buy them a cup of coffee and chat about what they’re doing. Let the circumstances dictate the request. You may not hear back, and that’s okay. Wait it out and if the moment feels right, you can try again later. After that, move on. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
How do you use social media to advance your career and make connections? Share your own thoughts in the comments below!