Networking is a huge part of any creative’s success, but especially models. Being able to market yourself through verbal communication and a good impression is vital to growing your connections and links within the industry. Doing so requires a lot of time, effort, and confidence.
I know I, like many people feel intimidated and shy to interact at work and social events yet it’s important to remember that the benefits are worthwhile. We decided to put together a small guide with helpful tips for models who beginning their networking. We hope you find it useful and that it eases some of the anxiety that comes with having to make a room full of people like you.
What is networking?
We are probably all familiar with this, but it’s worth stating for the purpose of having us all on the same page. Networking is communicating and interacting with professionals within your field. The aim is to develop strong connections that will result in more work for models and thus a successful career. Now the true question of “How do I network?” The simple way of putting it is that to network successfully you must start conversations. This requires confidence and a dose of courage in a room full of strangers.
Try to always take a friendly and natural approach which will make introducing yourself easy. On a side note: making a professional impression during an actual job is another way to make people take notice of you and to build connections without even really realizing it. You will be recommended for other jobs thanks to your efforts.
Where do I network?
As a model, there are many opportunities to network. You should always be ready to interact as you never know when a conversation may transform into a potential opportunity. Adopting a friendly, interested and enthusiastic attitude will help the conversation flow naturally and appeal to industry professionals.
Fashion parties, exhibitions, and shows are the perfect time to network with industry professionals. A room full of like-minded people who are interested in the creative world may just be in the need of a model. Before attending the conference or event ensure that you do some research to find out a little more.
The topic, speakers and guests will usually be announced prior to the date, which provides you time to read up in advance. Follow the event/designers/speakers on Twitter/Instagram to keep up to date with their movements. Commenting and liking pictures may eventually get you on their radar. The more information you search for and memorize the better chances you have of striking up a thought-provoking conversation with some pretty important people who will no doubt remember you.
You should also be networking on the job by being friendly, enthusiastic and making the effort to speak to everyone involved at the shoot or fashion show. Also online on model networking sites.
You should constantly be joining forums and networking sites.
Who do I network with?
You should be networking with peers, friends, and other fellow models. The industry is known for its competitive nature with each model out for themselves. However, there will be some models who are willing to help each other. If you do a good deed for a model then hopefully they will return the favor.
Models should also network with photographers. By posing and communicating well throughout the shoot, a photographer will enjoy working with you. They may ask to work with you again in the future or recommend you to other photographers, designers or clients, thus opening many doors.
Here are some do’s and don’t’s of networking for models:
Do get to know the person:
Ensure that you show a genuine interest in their story as well as telling your own. Ask questions to find out a little more about their life. If stuck for conversation starters ask about current projects they may be working on, if they are planning a trip this summer or if they are enjoying the event. Keep the conversation balanced and fun to avoid entering an interview territory.
Don’t just ask for a job outright:
Try to offer something to the client rather than blatantly asking for a job. Bringing a reason to hire you that is slightly different to the next model is important as asking to collaborate on a project may not be enough. You need to demonstrate why you are the right model for the job. All the while not seeming to hungry for work.
3. Do stand out from the crowd:
If you wish to make an impact at a show or event make sure you know whoever’s work is on display really well. By adding a personal touch and explaining what pieces you love about their work and why will demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in their work and score you some brownie points.
Do dress appropriately:
Choose an outfit that you feel comfortable and confident in. Don’t opt for an item that distracts you from the task in hand. Tripping in high heels or skirts that keep riding up are a definite pass for networking events. An appropriate, suitable outfit for the occasion will allow you to concentrate on creating meaningful links without being worried about how you look.
5. Don’t get distracted by your phone:
Be present at the event by resisting spending the whole evening on your phone. Of course, it is important to check in on Facebook, post a few Instagram stories about the event yet don’t spend the duration on your phone missing vital mingling time. Smile and initiate conversations as most of the people there will just be as nervous as you. Which a key thing to remember. Everyone is in the same boat dreading these networking events just as you are. That should make you feel a bit better.
Don’t forget to listen:
It is important to listen to answers and respond appropriately. Sometimes at the worst possible moments, we zone out and lose concentration. Ensure that you stay focus to look engaged and interested in what they have to say even if you aren’t really interested at all.
7. Do stay sober:
Keep the amount of alcohol you consume to a bare minimum to avoid embarrassment and saying the wrong thing. Don’t wait for connections to come to you, initiate an interesting conversation asking questions to really get the dialogue going. Hold a drink if it makes you more comfortable, but we can’t stress this enough that you should not over indulge. It will cause more problems than it’s worth.
Do work through the correct channels:
Keep it professional by contacting potential clients via appropriate platforms. Email and phone are typically the best ways to approach industry professionals. Do not reach out through an Instagram message. This looks unprofessional and may avoid some people. Use your judgment. If you are collaborating with peers then it may be ok, but with anyone who you are hoping to a professional career with try to keep it that way.
Do wait the appropriate amount of time:
Waiting for a response can be difficult, but you must be patient. Follow up three days to a week later to remind them of your original email. Don’t always expect a reply, you will get more rejection than success at first.
Do go to events alone:
Be brave and go alone. Although the experience is intimidating it will force you to communicate with others. When individuals go to events in groups they tend to stay together missing crucial contacts.If you do decide to attend with friends then make a promise to split for a portion of the night to establish your own contact.
Outside of networking at events, you should be building your own brand as a model online. So when posting photographs on social media ensure that you tag everyone involved – the photographer, stylist, make-up artist and anyone else relevant – main creative team.
They will probably do the same ensuring that your handle will be shared with their followers too. By tagging the creative team you will acknowledge their hard work and show appreciation making a valuable connection. It’s a great way to mutually help other creatives get their work seen.
Marketing yourself via Instagram is a good idea! It is the perfect platform to advertise your skills and can easily become an online portfolio. Agents do look to Instagram platforms to find new models and talent. Do be wary when contacted via social media and be sure to check out their legitimacy before pursuing. It is a great way to build a network with other insta-models by engaging.
The inside scoop on how to make a good impression:
To build a good reputation and a strong network making a good impression is vital. A large, fruitful network does not happen from a quick conversation at an event. It is developed year after year from offering good work, attending countless events and staying true to your word. A successful network needs to be nurtured and maintained throughout your career. Arrive on time to every casting/photo shoot to create a reliable reputation. Always be at your best. There always is a time and a place for informal behavior and you need to be able to distinguish that and if you are ever in doubt always remain professional. It’s better to do that than to act nonchalant and come off as a fool.
Well, no need to fear not. So get to it.