Building Industry Connections

‘It’s not what you know. It’s who you know’. There’s a phrase as dreaded by creators as its corollary: networking.

Will cream rise? Will talent out? Perhaps. But, there are plenty of bills to be paid and plenty of gatekeepers to be wooed in the interim. How can professional creators find their way to industry contacts who can get their work out to a broader, paying audience?

From an expert:

We spoke to Fawn Mulcahy, a local Public Relations expert who, as President of The Fawnz Creative Communications, helps artisans find their communities and connect with buying audiences. What advice does she have for creators looking to forge career-building connections?

“I believe that there are lots of fine people out there who want to support and help creative people with their careers,” says Mulcahy. “We can’t all be on stage; some of us like to sit and applaud. Here’s where your network comes into play …”

i. Keep your eyes open.
“Connections can be made everywhere and anywhere, online and in real life,” says Mulcahy. “And we don’t have to look at networking as only at the big events with business card exchanges. You can build your network every day from volunteering to group activities to friends.”

ii. Treat all with industry respect.
“The world really is a small place so all people who cross your path are potential connections for your creative career. So treat everybody like they are the most important person in the world, because one day they may be!”

iii. Pitch from the heart
“In a social setting or a networking environment, I believe that when you are truly doing what you love to do with your art, and feel both inspired and fulfilled with your work, then your ‘pitch’ does not need to be so structured but more about telling of the story of your craft. This can be so much more authentic than a practiced script. People can tell when you are passionate about your work, will be more engaged, likely want to hear more or be curious. So it all really starts with loving what you do, and believing in yourself.  And from there, your story can flow.”

iv. Stand by your word.
“Always, always, always honour your word and deliver when and what you say you will. People remember when you don’t.”

v. Pay it forward
“I believe that the best advice is pretty simple: if you take care of your network, your network will take care of you.”

From fellow creators:

Across our Creators Vancouver profiles and Q + As, artists from different fields have talked about how they build connections that have helped them in their careers.

Amy Van Wormer, a busy make-up artist who has worked on films from Twilight to Star Trek, offers some networking advice.

vi. Be willing to work for free @ the start.
“You’ll make connections with people. Once you do, maintain them. The big make-up artist you meet is going to forget about you; she meets lots of people. Keep in touch.”

vii. Show your personality
“Makeup artists are a dime a dozen now. Personality sets them apart.”

viii. Be bold
“Cold-email people. Connect with them through social media. They might be happy to talk to you, but you won’t know unless you go after it.”

Amy Van Wormer Profile

Chef Dan Spratling and Wally Mitchell, founders of The Lemon Square, say:

Photo: Erin Ireland

ix. Network with others doing the same thing
“They are usually more than happy to talk to you about their experiences.” 

x. Give back
“We try and give donations for charity events. It feels good to help out and people get to know you.”

The Lemon Square Guys

Jewellery artist Joanna Lovett adds:

xi. Seek out other creators
“Surround yourself with all kinds of creative people. They speak your language.”

xii. Connect with customers
Meet current and potential customers in-person.

Joanna Lovett Profile

With the dread that hits many creators as they network, we also need to notice when our networking efforts are succeeding.

As Interior Designer Peter Wilds says:

xiii. Recognize success
‘I think success is scarier than failure. We know failure a lot more and continually create coping mechanisms for it. But success is about navigating uncharted territory. Sometimes we step back when we are on the precipice of success and positive change, because we don’t recognize where we are. And we are seeing ourselves in a new light. The stakes are much higher and risk of failure is greater. I always remind myself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And always go where people say Yes.’

Peter Wilds Profile



Header: Dominant Curve. Kandinsky. 1936
Mid Article: Black Lines. Kandinsky. 1913






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