“How do I find my tribe, my target market? I don’t really know anyone. I’m new to town.”
This question actually came up on our most recent group call from an artist who is enrolled in The MAKING Art Making MONEY Semester.
Just like me, when I started my artistic enterprise full-time, I was new to town and didn’t know anyone. Never mind, potential collectors or sources of referrals.
This was actually an advantage because it forced me to meet new people and to be more deliberate and strategic about it.
The few people who this artist does know are others artists and there are two problems she’s having with that.
- The artists who she knows are “negative” because they are waiting to be discovered.
- The other problem is that they are never going to buy her art.
Now I know there are rare exceptions to this rule but her target market is not going to be the other artists.
So she needs to get out and mix and mingle, talk about her mission, and expand her network.
She said, “I don’t even know where to start!”
Just start. Get practiced in meeting new people, connecting, and being helpful.
“To start your objective is to find other people with shared values or interests.” I advised her.
Technology makes it easy for us connect.
Go search Meetup.com, Eventbite.com, Face Book, and ask around.
It’s so easy to find events so that you can meet other people with similar interests.
And you need to because relationships equal revenue.
“I feel so awkward when I go to these events.”
“Join the club!” I responded. So does everyone else when they first join in.
So be a hero and just go up to someone who is also alone, or the person sitting next to you and just say, “Hello. My name is (fill in the blank.) What’s yours?” Then say, “What brings you here?”
Then just listen.
Seriously. That’s all there is to it.
Then they may ask, “What brings you here?” or something else.
Before you know it, you’ll have started a conversation and you know what to do from here.
If you go to an event and you connect with just one person, you’ve hit a home run.
You do not need to collect twelve business cards before you allow yourself to leave.
If you do this three times a week, your network will blow up.
Eventually you will have new opportunities that you could never have even dreamt of.
The key is to be polite, smile genuinely, listen, and see if there might be a way that you could help the person you’re speaking with.
That’s how you make a stranger into a new friend or ally.
Now I know you know all this stuff already but sometimes the idea of networking can feel daunting or overwhelming because you know that you have to expand your network but you don’t really want to feel uncomfortable among strangers.
But when you just break it down the simple steps above, it’s really not so bad.
The most important thing is to do it, and expect that in the beginning you’ll feel a bit awkward or shy.
Just be yourself. Because when you’re open and honest other people sense it and that gives them permission to relax and be themselves.
We don’t want to meet the PR version of someone; we want to connect with the real person.
Most people are kind and helpful and don’t forget they are there because they also want to make new connections.
So get over yourself and just extend your hand and say hello. It won’t kill you.
And people are not judging you. You’re just not that important. They’re concerned with themselves.
We don’t succeed alone so get out of your studio and mix and mingle at least once this week.
Now share your plans below.