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How To Work A Room When Networking
Tips for sweet-talking the entire art world, all while having a drink in hand
Art Stuff 01 Dec 2019

Private views and art parties are a great chance to catch up with friends and have a free drink or two (or maybe three, or four, hey we’re not judging). But they’re also an opportunity to network the hell out of the art world. It’s one of the few occasions where artists, gallerists, curators, influencers and PR girls are all in the same room, so the scope for advancing your career is huge. The problem is, how? Well my friends, that is where we step in to help you…
 
Do your research before hand and know what you want


It’s all very well turning up to an event because you liked the PR image on Instagram, but it’s worth checking out what you’re actually going to well in advance. That way, if someone does come up to you, or better still, you approach them, you have something informed to talk about, and more importantly, you know what you want from them.
It’s also an idea to have a look into who might be attending. Who is the artist’s gallerist? Who are their best friends? Has this curator attended this gallery’s openings before? Once you have this information, you’ll be able to zone in on who you want to target.
 
Play the name game

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When introducing yourself to someone, give your first and last name, and make sure you say it loud and clear. Better still, if you have a business card (if you don’t, get some), flash it immediately. That way you won’t be forgotten. A first name is all very nice, informal and approachable, but how are they supposed to find you later on the gram if they don’t know your surname?
 
Refresh yourself on your CV and your best achievements

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This may sound stupid, but in the heat of the moment you are likely to forget some of your biggest achievements.  Networking is kind of like a job interview in an informal setting. You’re trying to sell yourself right? But unlike in a job interview, whoever you’re speaking to won’t have looked at your CV beforehand. It’s easy to forget your career highlights in the middle of a party situation, so it’s a good idea to remind yourself about how great you are before you arrive.
 
Don’t attach yourself to your best friend all night


Your bestie will still be there after you’ve chatted up that blue-chip gallerist for ten minutes, so don’t worry about leaving her to fend for herself for an hour or so. You’re selling yourself to people, and it’s best to do that without having someone stand awkwardly beside you.
 
Show interest and turn up the charm

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When speaking to someone new at an opening or a party, make sure that you seem interested (even if you’re not). Turn up the charm, people like their egos to be caressed, and if you do it well, they’ll remember you.
 
Move on


The worst thing you can do is spend too much time chatting to one person. Firstly, they’ll probably find you a bit full on and secondly, you’re missing out on all the other potential contacts in the room. Ten minutes is more than enough time to be schmoozing someone. Once this time is up, pretend you need to refill your drink or a friend has just walked in.
 
Follow up afterwards


So you had a great night at the arty party, networked the hell out of the room, and have a bunch of business cards lingering at the bottom of your handbag. Now is the time to move everything to the next level, email everyone you met to tell them how great it was to meet them and suggest meeting for coffee. And, when you do meet them again, ensure that you have something important to say. Good luck 😉
 
Text Lizzy Vartanian

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