Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Art of Networking and Making Connections

Have you ever been to a networking event in which you talk to dozens of people but don’t seem to find a connection with anyone? Or worse yet, you find yourself in the corner by yourself?
Many artists and arts professionals I know are shy or simply dread networking events. In order to elevate your success to the next level, you’re going to have to communicate about yourself and your work. By not attending these events, you are forgoing possible opportunities to find new leads and sell your work. 
Recently I participated in a really great tele-seminar “Mastering the Art of Quick Connection was as easy as 1 - 2 – 3!” about networking and making connections. The chat was hosted by Lisa Marie Platske, President & CEO of Upside Thinking, Inc. who was interviewing Bonnie Ross-Parker, CEO & Founder of “The Joy of Connecting®”, two fabulous ladies that help other women and entrepreneurs succeed.

Bonnie's approach takes the “work” out of networking and her three-part connecting system is easy and effective. In order to make a quick connection and increase your success in any networking event, remember to do the following:
1.     Differentiate
2.     Be Memorable
3.     Make a Difference
Differentiate: Always be yourself and feel free to be different. If you’re shy, an easy conversation starter that gets others to approach you is wearing your own personalized name tag with your name, business and logo. Also try going out of your way to make a connection. Rescue that person who’s alone simply by introducing yourself; they’ll be so grateful and more likely to be interested in learning more about your work. You can even connect people you’ve met that have things in common. One time I connected a young designer who needed copyright legal advice with a qualified attorney I had met earlier in the night.     
Be Memorable: This refers to your appearance and behavior. As far as your look, people remember those who stand out. Go ahead and wear your wild jewelry or blue hair if that’s “you.” Even simple things make a big impact. Once I attended a professional networking event where everyone was wearing black or neutral colors while I wore a red outfit. I made a lot of good connections that day. When it comes to behavior, try to leave a positive impression. Be a great listener, invite people to come to your next opening or send articles they would enjoy. And try not to be remembered for the wrong reasons, such as having one too many drinks.
Make a Difference: People see right through those who are too sales-y or self-serving. What are you doing and saying to others? Are you leaving positive imprints in people’s lives? Think of those who have made a difference in your own life and model yourself after them.
Although you should try to stand out and make a good impression, it’s about making real connections and fostering those relationships. It’s better to have a great conversation with one potential lead rather than have superficial chats with 30 people. And if you do make some positive connections, remember to follow up with them with an email, call or personal invitation to your next exhibit.
Lisa Marie Platske is the President & CEO of Upside Thinking, Inc., an international leadership development company which provides coaching/consulting to leaders and business professionals; she can be found at and http://www.DaretoShareEvent.comBonnie Ross-Parker, aka "America's Connection Diva" is CEO & Founder of “The Joy of Connecting®” which helps business women and entrepreneurs create relationships and professional alliances through connections:

*If you need additional help on your road to success, check out some additional resources: my new book Sculpt Your Life From Sketch to Masterpiece(TM), join me in Individual or Group Coaching, check out the Masterpiece Guild, or one of my DVD Training courses.

I also love reading comments, feel free to leave your thoughts or what has or hasn't worked for you. Please feel free to share this article with others who may benefit from it. Cheers to you!

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