Networking is a hot topic for a lot of creatives. We invited some of our colleagues to share their thoughts on the topic including the hot spots in their community where they go to connect with creatives.
It's hard to network. Let's just accept that up front. It may end up becoming one of the biggest challenges you face as a professional artist.
I'd like you to consider not just networking with other artistic professionals. Start networking with your community in general. Find out when the Arts Commission meets. Attend. Find out when the council meetings happen. Attend. Find out about your local Chamber of Commerce events. Attend. I'll give you TWO reasons why this is NECESSARY.
#1 It's important that we as professional artists GET INVOLVED in the community. They need our ideas. They need our involvement.
#2 You need THEIR network. The council members, community leaders, community heroes are your future benefactors. These are the people that sit on grant boards. These are the people that have the power to finance your projects.
These two points combined will instantly put you ahead in the game. But be patient, be authentic, and be sincere. Do it for the right reasons and you will attract the influencers that will put you on their shoulders.
Be creative, be powerful, be community.
Walla Walla converted a section of road right off Main Street into an open-air plaza with overhead lights and tables and chairs. It's become a favorite spot to catch up, grab some lunch, coffee or a snack, and collab or even just chat; weather permitting of course!
The City also started having movie nights hosted by the Walla Walla Movie Crush at Powerhouse Theater, and I've been trying to get the few film heads here in Walla Walla together to go. Networking on the commercial video end is definitely aided when attending business-oriented events at the Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce, but on the narrative film side networking has a very different vibe, more community based, with a focus on strengthening connections between artists of various forms and finding locals who are artistically inclined and trying to coax them out of their shells.
Melissa Huggins, Executive Director of Spokane Arts
My go-to spot for meetings is Atticus Coffee & Gifts in downtown Spokane. The staff is great, the atmosphere is lovely, and the owners are wonderful people who genuinely love the arts. I can always trust their recommendations on coffee, books, wine, and more.
In terms of networking, I encourage creatives to show up to many events in their discipline or industry (not just one) and be brave: introduce yourself, be ready to talk briefly about your work, and make genuine connections with people. Showing up is an act of care, and it helps you see what's already happening in the scene, what's missing, and how you can plug in. Plus you might meet new friends and collaborators!
Red Elm Cafe on Hilltop is the best place to run into colleagues and community partners in Tacoma. Pro-tip: don't skip the waffles. And to connect with creatives in Tacoma, check out any of the markets, like the Tacoma Night Market, Tacoma Sunday Market, or The Community Market. Also, follow local social accounts like the Downtown Tacoma Partnership or Grit City Tacoma.
Do you want to tell us about a hot spot in your city where creatives hang out? Email us at Info@BeWhipsmart.org.