How to Successfully Build your Creative Network

Just Got Made • 03 Feb 2017

Networking for Introverts, Creatives, a Just Got Made event

Building up a successful creative business or career is more than just making great work – you have to make sure the right customers know your name, the press finds you, and that you’re the person who gets called when an amazing opportunity arises.

Helen, our founder here at Just Got Made loves meeting people and shares her tips below on how to build useful and genuine relationships within the industry, catapulting your business to success.

The Two-way Street Mindset

Networking is not about shouting the loudest to make sure everyone knows who you are and what you do. A good networker concentrates on getting to know like-minded people and building genuine, long-term relationships.

To do this simply listen to what people say and think of how you could help them. Aside from good karma, the benefit of focusing on helping other people is that you’re much more likely to get an offer of help when you need it, and hear about potential opportunities and interesting developments further down the line.

Be in the Right Room

Networking furiously is no good if you never meet the right people! Ask yourself who you want to meet, and go to events where these people are likely to be. Design shows and events are a good starting point but think laterally too – maybe your customers are all parents and a local kid-friendly event is your next place to network.

Don’t forget to stay Local

It’s not all about hitting the national design shows and major conferences. Make sure you take the time to meet the creative network around you – local shows, shop openings and independent pubs – as these are often occasions were building good relationships are easiest. Feel like there’s nothing going on in your area? Get a couple of people together and start your own night.

Recognise your Spirit Animals

Does networking scare you? It scares plenty of other people too. If you walk into an event and feel intimidated, look for the person hiding behind a plant in the corner and save them by saying hello. If however, you’re always the life and soul of the party, get stuck in and say hi to the people dancing in the middle! Follow your gut instinct when walking into a room and you’ll start off on the right foot.

Arrive on Time

Being naturally shy, I used to arrive late to events and sneak in once the party had started. But actually, if you arrive right at the start of the event it’s easier to start conversations as people haven’t already formed groups. Also -top tip!- the most influential people are often the busiest and may arrive at events early and only stay a few minutes. Don’t miss out on the chance to say hello to them.

Use Social Media

It’s a given that connecting with people around an event before, during and after it on social media will help make the most of your networking efforts. Look out for useful #hashtags, follow people you meet and tag your photos if relevant. Posting good pictures, especially on Twitter, also makes it more likely the organisers will retweet you.

Have you Swapped Contacts?

If you get on with someone you’ve met for the first time, don’t forget to offer your contact details. I find some people like business cards and other’s just want to put a number straight into their phone, so be prepared to offer either. If they don’t offer you their contact details back don’t be offended, the ball’s in their court.

Remember, Remember..

If you’ve a terrible memory, make sure you make a note on the person’s card or in your contacts list that will remind you who they are. I’ve got cards with notes like “good glasses” and “Liz’s friend from Hackney” written on them! Much better than collecting a bundle of pretty cards which are totally useless.

Don’t be Forgotten

Follow up promptly. It’s better to call or write a short note straightaway than over think it and let the moment pass.

Follow up with the three I’s

If you’re not sure what to say, try a friendly approach by offering something useful to them: information, an invite or an introduction. For example “(information)here’s a link to that gallery we spoke about”, “(invite)Come to my show on the 21st and bring a friend!” or “(introduction)I think Sal might be the perfect seamstress for the bags – shall I put you guys in touch?”.  And try to keep it as short as possible.


Hope this is useful! Let me know what you think of my advice and what networking tips and tricks work well for you, by talking to me on Twitter @Just_Got_Made. Happy networking! -Helen

What Next?

Just Got Made run informal networking events connecting the maker revolution: creatives, makers, entrepreneurs manufacturers, factories, material and equipment suppliers, community activists and thinkers! Sign up to our newsletter to keep in the loop.