Networking Tips for Illustrators

In the lead up to the Picture Hooks 2016 Conference, we asked Design Manager at Floris Books, Leah McDowell for her top tips on networking.

Networking. What an awful word. Does the mere sight of it fill you with dread? If your answer is yes, then you’re just one of millions of creative people that feel the same way. As a species, creatives are notoriously shy. This is ironic, given that so much of what they do is inspired by, or created for, humankind.

The Picture Hooks Conference 2016 is fast approaching and sprinkled among this year’s excellent schedule, are opportunities for – you’ve guessed it – networking.

But never fear! Here are five top tips on how you can network with your fellow creatives in order to make the very most of this unmissable day.

Top tip 1: Know that you’re all in the same boat

Many of this year’s Picture Hooks delegates will be feeling a little nervous about meeting new people. Just remember that they’ll be concentrating hard on not coming across as nervous and therefore they’re unlikely to notice if you’re feeling uncomfortable too!
If it so happens that you come across a networking guru, then don’t be intimidated; learn from them! Watch how they handle the situation and get in on their conversation to reap the benefits.

Top tip 2: Take advantage of the real-life publishers there!

Picture Hooks presents a brilliant opportunity to hear from the people that are on the lookout for new and talented illustrators and the networking sessions can present some one-on-one time with them. Don’t be intimidated by that – grab the opportunity! Publishers need children’s book illustrators, so take the chance to pick their brains and get answers to questions you perhaps weren’t brave enough to ask in the sessions.

Top tip 3: Remember: it’s important to challenge yourself

As an illustrator or a designer, it’s important to continually challenge yourself creatively, otherwise your work will stagnate and you’ll lose passion for what you do. Think of networking as just another challenge! Albeit it’s not purely creative, but it can have the same great benefits. In talking to someone new you could meet a future collaborative partner or you could learn something new about a person’s creative process that could inspire a great new project.

Top tip 4: Don’t be afraid to pretend you need to wee

One of the big concerns most people have about networking is how to get out of a conversation you no longer want to be in. If you find yourself in that situation, just thank the person for their time, tell them you enjoyed speaking to them and say you need to nip to the bathroom. Job done! Now you can move on to a new conversation (ideally on the other side of the room where they won’t see you for a little while…).

Top tip 5: Bring along (and give out) your business cards

Never think that business cards are only for fat cats in tailored suits. They’re the perfect way for you to share details of your website/online portfolio/sketch blog with other people and to get your name out there. People who work in the creative industries in Scotland are fairly close-knit and lots of people know each other; passing your card to one person might get your work seen by another who could give you your big break.

Like-minded individuals from all over Scotland will be at the Picture Hooks Conference 2016, so get a smile on your face (it helps to bluff confidence!), wear your favourite outfit (again, helps to bluff confidence) and stride in there eager to make some new contacts – or maybe even friends!