Networking is everything. This is the conclusion I’m making from all the business articles I read on the subject. I naturally agree with this statement, because we are all “only humans” and every single business transaction is between humans. So, the more people you know the better.
By the way, I include into my “professional networking” only those people who are working in the same area as I am. In other words, they must be either business owners of a beads and craft shops or artists, who work with beads, wire, who makes jewelry, artificial flowers and such.
The question is how much time and effort to put into building my business network? Some authors suggest that I have to make at least one new contact per day. That is extremely aggressive goal to me! I would have to spend all my time looking for business owners and artists, find the way to talk to them or set up meetings and appointments… Frankly, I hate this! Do not get me wrong, I’m an extrovert, I love to talk to my colleges, I love to spend time with them, but I feel so pressured if I have to do it purposely and systematically.
At the moment when I thought that I’m doomed, I just realized that there is a way to have fun doing it! All I need is find a place and time where all those people will gather together! It could be a show or a conference. In fact, I used to go to the one of the biggest events in US - Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show, which is an annual show taking place in Tucson, AZ:
Very first time I went there, I met so many great artists! This is unbelievable! Dale Armstrong, Meredith Arnold, Jean Campbell, Albina Manning… Just to name the few I’m often in contact with.
Dale "Cougar" Armstrong, Her Daughter Skye and Me
Me and Lauren Andersen "The ChainMaille Lady"
Jodi Bombardier and Me
Meredith Arnold, Bea Grob and Me
Albina Manning and Me
We had such a good time together, there were constant flow of ideas and after show is over we keep in touch and sometimes even have collaborative projects like our book “Mixed Media Jewelry Techniques”
There are also local shows, which I’m trying to find and visit every year. However, shows are rather occasional events. What can I do on a daily basis, what other options available for me?
I think I can use online services to grow my network - I’m trying to be active on other people online forums and blogs, participate in several groups on Etsy and facebook. And even know, in this very moment, you are reading it, which makes me think that you are related somehow to what I’m doing. Are you an artist? Are you a business owner? Or both? Let’s connect! Please, do not be shy, introduce yourself! Let’s do something together!