Tips on Networking

Hey all!

Went for my very first networking event yesterday with the Young People in the Arts (I’ve just discovered these guys!) I’m guilty of shying away from social events and making every excuse not to attend. My mentor, Naomi Jane from Less Ordinary, told me “ACTION KILLS FEAR“. These very words inspired to murder my stupid fear of socialising in order to free an excited young heart. With sweaty palms (it was a hot evening in London!), deep breathing exercises (thanks to yoga!) and swearing at my Google map directions (sorry little orange man), I made it into the beautiful small venue of 1901 Arts Club, London Waterloo.

Although it was a tiny venue, it was full of nervous arts nerds like me! Speakers were: Hannah Clements (Career, Education and Guidance), Sarah Gee (Indigo Ltd), James Hopkirk (IdeasTap Editor) and Jonathan May (LIFT). So I thought I would share my notes with you all…….enjoy! 🙂

General Notes:

  • No rules or regulations to networking
  • It’s not something you do, it’s something you create
  • It’s like dating, but remember you have two eyes, two ears, one mouth
  • Friendship and arts blur
  • Networking is incredibly important to fundraising- you can’t afford to be nasty to anybody
  • Networking is critical to journalism otherwise no stories or contacts
  • Your peers and professionals are important especially if you’re freelancing
  • Never know who you might end up working/collaborating with
  • Networking is extremely important, especially if you are early in your career
  • Grab your opportunity- less about you and more about learning from other people
  • Have guts!- you never know who you are standing next to
  • KEY TO NETWORKING: “Being interested and be interesting

Preparation for networking:

  • Ring/email for a delegate list in advance
  • See whether you can contact a few of them to meet up slightly earlier- go out for coffee as it’s a relaxed environment
  • If you arrange the meeting, make sure you lead it! Remember, they’ve agreed to meet you so it is your time to shine
  • After meeting up, follow up the next day even if you just want to say thank you
  • Perhaps send a handwritten card as a thank you or good luck- nothing wrong with the retro approach- great little gesture – but don’t try too hard!

 In the networking zone:

  • Find the “common ground”- who or what do you both know?
  • Don’t go in with your business hat on, but an open mind
  • Don’t go for a fixed “target” person as it can create a barrier
  • Don’t just pitch at them- remember it’s friend raising, not fundraising
  • Help other people achieve what they want- it’s a “win win” situation
  • Speak with emerging young leaders- discover the young
  • Speak to the intern, rather than the “Big Cheese”, they are the low-risk networkers especially if you’re nervous
  • Ask open questions to help you to gain information without speaking all the time
  • Come away from the networking event with a fist full of business cards and make notes on the back of them from your conversation.
  • Try not to give your business cards out, but receive them so you’re in control
  • Use these “business card” notes for follow-up conversations, e.g. email them
  • Be yourself- remember you can’t ask stupid questions
  • Remember you are all in the same position so uncomfortable situations can happen

How to MAKE THE MOST OF your contacts

  • When you want to talk to many contacts at the networking event, try to: A) Ask whether they would like a drink and hope they find someone else to talk to B) Be honest and say I know we are both here to talk to others, but can I have a business card/contact C) Buddy up with them and say shall we explore other networkers together
  • But it’s fine to catch up with just one person or small group- don’t feel guilty, let others into your group
  • Keep them a warm contact- don’t just go to them just because you want something from them
  • Remember: A speedy response is important so use social media, e.g. Twitter
  • Other fruitful networking platforms: LinkedIn and The Dots
  • The beauty of social media is people become easier to find – they want to be contacted. especially those on LinkedIn
  • Note to self: Don’t use a stupid email address to contact you on, such as
  •  Be genuine and be a “connector” with your other contacts
  •  Go through your email/social friend list and pick out three people you haven’t contacted in ages
  •  Putting yourself out there and finding out as much as you can
  •  Set up social meetings yearly/monthly to touch base- alcohol-fuelled social places can help 😉
  •  Make your events formal and social
  • Start your own network if you can’t find one suited to your interests or location
  • Get your group members to bring a guest to help expand the social circle

Representing your organisation at networking events:

  • It’s a good thing as you’ve been privileged with that position
  • Remember not everyone has the answers so no unnecessary pressure!
  • Don’t self-doubt as this will be a confidence issue- empower yourself
  • Be the “connector” for your organisation
  • Everyone is busking in life, you just get better at it as time goes on
  • Just get down to it

Hope these notes help you! Please feel free to comment if you would like to share any of your networking tips or experiences.


2 thoughts on “Tips on Networking

  1. I really wanted to go to this event so thank you so much for blogging about it! Are you going to the programming one, coming up? I think networking is so key in the arts – it’s like one big family – but it can sometimes seem like an exclusive scary club too. Especially to outsiders or newbies. My tip would be just to ASK – people are so happy to help others out, especially early on in their careers. 🙂


    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment! My absolute pleasure! Yes I am going to the Programming one, if you need company, let me know 🙂 I totally agree with you- it is extremely tough and competitive industry to “step” into. We will get there! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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