If you think that networking is manipulative, selfish, or all about getting ahead you are doing it wrong. In this episode, we talk about how networking is all about friendship, giving, and the people that you choose to spend time with. We talk about how to network and connect with people above, next to, and below you.
The What and Why of a Network?
Your network is your connection to a broader world, to opportunities, and to new ideas. Your network consists of your friends in the field that you work in. Your network is so important and who you surround yourself with will influence the type of person that you are and the person that you will become. This applies to your creative life as well as with every other aspect of who you are.
Every jump in Jake’s career came from his network: animation, comics, publishing. Your network is your gate to so many
Jake and Will started to get connected over lunch. Lee was deliberate and tried to connect with Will and Jake.
Networking is like cycling, there is strength in staying in a group. Bikers encourage and support each other, and they draft off of each other. It is hard to break away and do it on your own. Choose friends and to spend time with people that push you to be better.
A true network is not your “job hotline” it consists of your real friends, your buds.
Put yourself in the right place and good things can happen [13:40]
It is true that there are some places that are creative hubs where its easier to find people to connect with but ultimately your network is a result of how much time and effort you put into it.
How much time do you spend getting to know other creatives that are like-minded, how do you make the first contact, and how do you deepen a creative relationship that you have? Consider these things as you learn more about creating your personal network and how to grow it.
Question: Do you need to live in a creative hot spot to be successful [14:54]
Many people have the false impression that it’s all about the location of an artist. Although each area has its own creative hub you can find creatives that are like minded just like you anywhere.
You create your network and you can reach out to people in the area through web searches and hashtagging your area to find people that have the same goals and values as you. Instagram is a great platform to do research and learn about the people in the area and there will be people.
How to build a network of friends in your area [18:00]
Search online, check hashtags, follow & Like
SVS Forum or general online forums
Through these interactions online you begin to develop relationships, give feedback and receive feedback, and engage with others. You can make the effort to not only find creatives online but create the friendships and start conversations to grow your circles.
Online interaction is good, but you’ll need to meet people in real life [22:54]
Online interaction has its pros and has reach but there needs to be face to face interaction to solidify the relationships and contacts. This face to face interaction develops the real friendship aspect of networking. Go to networking events, Comicon, conferences, and presentations allow you the environment to meet people face to face with similar goals, values, and ideals. Often time if you have a clear vision of where you want to go you find people in the same boat as you.
How to get over being nerves [24:06]
Starting a conversation with a stranger is not easy but in the industry of illustration and artist, there are comfort zones that need to be broken.
Talking face to face can be hard but there are many things you can do to overcome the fear of talking to someone you have never met. Put yourself in situations to interact with others. Sit next to people or stand next to them in line and create a beginning point of conversation like drawing next to them or talk about why they are there.
Introduction and exit strategies [27:48]
The more and more you stick your neck out to meet other people the more and more you will learn how to ignite conversations and end a conversation. You can begin by pointing out something on their shirt, comment about something that they have or ask about what they are doing here, or what awesome things they seen at the conference etc.
Jake’s foolproof exit is “It was so good to meet you!” hint I gotta go.
Form: Family, occupation, recreation, motivation(or message) [29:44]
You can follow these guidelines to create conversation
Family: Are you here alone, where are you from, are you the only artist in your family?
Occupation: What do you do for a living, is it a hobby?
Recreation: What do you like to do for fun?
This then warms people up for this question:
Motivation: What motivates you, why are you here, why did you decide to draw ….?
Don’t forget the best questions: what is your worthless superpower?
More ideas to meet people [33:11]
Attend a lunch or dinner, or host your own
Create a critique group
In critique groups, you find artists that are motivated and like-minded. This group can meet once a month or once a week and help challenge you personally and grow with each other.
Go to the mall and get something to eat and draw. It’s as simple as that. This is a great opportunity to get face to face action.
Set up one-on-one meetings [35:44]
This is a very deep level of interaction and creating your network.
What does your network look like [37:03]
Your network is composed of mentors, friends, and followers. Mentors are people that are farther along and have more experience than you. Friends are the people at the same stage of life you are in and have similar experience level. Followers are people that look up to you.
Keep in mind this quote: It’s not who you know, it’s who you help - Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don’t starve [38:27]
Give and you will grow your network.
Research before reaching out [41:00]
You need to put the work into researching before reaching out to mentors and peers. Before contacting a someone that you admire purchase their material, watch their YouTube videos, read their blog, follow their social media. However, beyond that make sure you have put the time and effort into learning about the field you are interested in or researching about the questions you have. For example, if you are wanting to be a children's book illustration do your research before asking a professional for help and looking like a deer in the headlights.
How to ask questions [41:56]
Before asking a question to a mentor think it through. Ask the question AND provide three solutions to your question. This demonstrates that you have thought things out and have done your research.
How to get a great mentor [43:26]
Jake’s experience with Rachel Everette- First, Rachel went to a workshop Jake was hosting. Then they met again at ComicCon and she asked Jake to create one of her characters as a commission. This was great because it allowed Jake to be immersed in her art and get to know her. At their next Comicon, she created fanart art of Jake’s character. She also reached out to help Jake with Skyheart because she had time during school. All these connections allowed Jake to become invested in her. Jake had a contact at Marvel and reached out to them on behalf of Rachel and she is now at the beginning of her career working with Marvel.
How to make friends in the industry [48:06]
It feels like common sense but find common interests- be a friend. Interact in thoughtful ways and then dig deeper. When you find people with the same artistic values and ideals stick with them and make time to connect with them.
Being a friend also means being invested in other others success, find the situations and environments that help you all grow, interact with people, and plug into groups and communities.
Finding followers [56:15]
Don’t neglect your follower network. Take time to create your follower network by creating work and allowing your “tribe” to naturally manifest. Build and maintain and network. Connect and be authentic when interacting with your followers. Some things that help people feel connected is Sharing your process, ah- ha moments, and screw-ups. Allow people to be involved in your world. Promote projects and do shoutouts.
Have a shared purpose of collective power i.e. Inkober- drawing in ink!
Building a universe one drawing at a time- Jake Parker. Build your brand around your shared purpose.
When building your network consider these things:
Share Freely [1:00:38]
People with good networks share freely. They don’t hide their secrets. This shows kindness, love, and authenticity.
Create a mantra [01:01:56]
Jake’s is Finished Not Perfect - independent creators that are finished
I.e. Draw every day
Learn and Listen [01:03:43]
Pay attention to feedback. Shift accordingly.
Host meetups [01:04:31]
You build a network by giving more than you take [01:05:14]
This is essential, give and share. This way is the right way to develop real lasting connections.
This is the key to networking- give. Be a giver more than a taker.
Connecting other people together. Elevates the scene that you are a part of.
If your group is not challenging you to find different friends and
NETWORKING Challenge [01:07:46]
At least one time this next week invited someone to do something related to illustration. Be the inviter.
Post on the forum about the outcome of this challenge!
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If you want to join in on this discussion log onto forum.svslearn.com, there is a forum for this episode you can comment on.