#1 Take advantage of free resources in your community
Free? That’s right, free! In every state there are organizations that exist for the sole purpose of stimulating the local economy through small business growth. One of these organizations is very dear to my heart: the Small Business Development Center!
Small Business Development Centers are non-profit organizations that exist all over the country. There are 13 in Nevada alone! At the SBDC, business counselors are waiting to help you develop your business model, find funding, develop marketing strategies, assist in your research, and ultimately help you grow your creative business! All you have to do is sign up and make an appointment. Not only do counselors act as your business advisors, but they can help connect you with the rest of your local entrepreneurial community. So click here to locate an SBDC near you!
Another nationwide organization that provides business advising for free is SCORE. Their team consists of retired executives who have extensive experience in all kinds of industries. Check out this site to see if there is a SCORE counselor in your area who has the experience you need.
NOTE: Both organizations are offering virtual counseling through the time of the Coronavirus.
#2 Find out who the leaders in your industry are and connect with them on social media
Social media offers a great way to stay in the loop on all things happening in your field. Find and follow your industry members and experts to start building relationships with them and learning from the content they post. Work hard to engage with them authentically.
But first, make sure that you are providing helpful content on your social media pages so to encourage others to follow you. If you’re a painter, maybe you post content about your process or mistakes/lessons you’ve learned that could be helpful for others. Give people a reason to remember you so that when you meet them in person, they’re already familiar with you and the value you bring.
Social media is a great way to learn about in-person events that are happening, especially in your area. If one of your favorite local artists is hosting a gallery, go and support them. If an expert in your field is hosting a webinar, join! Supporting your local network is the easiest way to get support back.
#3 Go to local events in your creative space
Again, supporting your local artrepreneurial community is one of the best ways to gain trust with potential contacts in your field. When you support others, they’re more likely to support you. Try to maintain a benevolent spirit, meaning that you are there to truly support them. Keep a learning attitude–you never know what tidbit of advice might be a huge learning lesson for you in your artrepreneurial journey. One of the easiest ways to find local events is to search online for people and organizations in your field and stay up-to-date with the information they post. Often they will share information on events, meet-ups, and openings.
Connecting with potential customers, mentors, and partners is a huge part of developing your artrepreneurial network–but you must stay genuine! People are much more willing to work with others who they feel are benevolent, well-meaning, and honest. So try your best to support without a hidden agenda. Ego is not welcome here!
Remember: Building a network takes time and benefits are not always immediate. Stay with it. Becoming a recognized name in any community takes time and effort, so consider this a strategy for the long-haul.
Challenge! Visit your social media pages right now and start searching for local members of your creative field–they can be people or organizations. Then, think about the value you can offer them through your own social media page. These two steps are the core of starting to develop your artrepreneurial network and can be done now, even in the time of COVID-19.