Networking. It’s a word that excites some, but if you’re anything like me, then it’s a word that ignites nervous butterflies. Throughout my young career I have heard countless times phrases like “It’s all about who you know” or “You should really be doing more networking.”
Last fall, I had the opportunity to attend the Thelonious Monk Competition at the Kennedy Center here in Washington, D.C. There were tons of people from the jazz community (both musicians and presenters). As a jazz trombonist and an aspiring jazz presenter it was amazing to be there.
After the competition and concert, I received a ticket to the an “exclusive” after party. The person who gave me the ticket said, “Now you should really go to this; there will be lots of important people there for you to meet.”
Immediately I heard networking and the butterflies started. “How do I meet ‘important people’ who I’ve never met before with no introduction? What do I say?”
I still do not really know the answer to my questions and I still get nervous in networking situations, but what I learned so far is to:
- Be confident, don’t talk yourself out networking just because you feel uncomfortable
- Many people want to help emerging leaders, especially in the arts, so don’t feel like a burden.
- Just do it! The more you are in networking situations, the more comfortable you will feel.
- Make sure to have business cards to give and to ask for a card whenever possible. And always take short notes on the backs of the cards to help you remember what you talked about.
Now of course these are just a few notes that have helped me, but there are many more out there. Ask someone with a similar personality how they go about networking. For example, if you’re introverted ask another introvert how they successfully network.
There are many opportunities to get out there and grow your network. If you’re in the D.C. area, one way is to come out and meet other arts leaders on February 23 at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium Benefit located at the Hamiltonian Gallery!
Please join us at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium, coming up on April 7 in Washington, DC (just before Arts Advocacy Day)! Spend a whole day with other amazing arts managers—hear from great speakers, share your knowledge, and learn something new. Also, be sure to like and follow EALS on Facebook and Twitter for new announcements and symposium news.