Networking is a huge part of a models success. Marketing yourself through verbal communication and a good impression is vital to growing your connections and links within the industry. Building a catalogue of connections takes time and requires a lot of confidence. Many feel intimidated and shy to interact at work and social events yet the benefits are worthwhile. To help you network in your field we have curated tips and advice to get you started!
What is networking?
Communicating and interacting with individuals within your industry to build links. The aim is develop strong connections that will result in more work and a successful career. A large network allows for models to rely on either regular jobs or spark new opportunities.
How do I network?
Simply by starting conversations you can build a new relationship, which requires confidence and courage especially working a room full of strangers. However, a friendly, natural approach is well received and will help you introduce yourself with ease. Also, making good impressions at modelling jobs is another way to network without realising. Ensuring that you are doing a good job to be recommended to new clients or be hired again in the future.
Where do I network?
As a model there are many opportunities to network. You should always be ready to interact as you never know when a conversation may transform into a potential opportunity. Adopting a friendly, interested and enthusiastic attitude will help the conversation flow naturally and appeal to industry professionals.
Fashion parties, exhibitions and shows are the perfect time to network with industry professionals. A room full of like-minded people who are interested in the creative world may just be in the need of a model. Before attending the conference or event ensure that you do some research to find out a little more. The topic, speakers and guests will usually be announced prior to the date, which provides time to read up in advance. Follow the event/designers/speakers on Twitter/Instagram to keep up to date with their movements. Commenting and liking pictures may eventually get you on their radar.
On the job
Being friendly, enthusiastic and making the effort to speak to everyone involved at the shoot or fashion show is a way of creating connections. Make a good impression on the job to ensure that you are recommended to their contacts.
Model networking sites
Join forums and networking sites. You will soon learn which ones are for you. Through these sites you could meet some influential contacts that will be useful in your career.
Who do I network with?
The industry is known for its competitive nature with each model out for themselves. However, there will be some models who are willing to help each other. If you do a good deed for a model then hopefully they will return the favour.
Creating a strong relationship with your agency opens up their network to you. When suitable opportunities arise your agent will think of you offering you the job over others.
By posing and communicating well throughout the shoot, a photographer will enjoy working with you. They may ask to work with you again in the future or recommend you to other photographers, designers or clients.
Similarly, if you produce excellent photographs for the designer you will certainly be on their radar. An offer may appear for their next shoot creating a strong link in the fashion industry.
The list is endless as you never know who knows who! Interact and be polite to everyone you meet at photoshoots or events as their connection list could just be what you need!
The do’s and don’ts of networking
Do get to know the person:
Ensure that you show a genuine interest in the their story too. Ask questions to find out a little more about their life. If stuck for conversation starters ask about current projects they may be working on, if they are planning a trip this summer or if they are enjoying the event. Keep the conversation balanced and fun to avoid entering interview territory. Add little antidotes of your planned holiday etc.
Don’t just ask for a job outright:
Try to offer something to the client rather than blatantly asking for a job. Bringing a reason to hire you that is slightly different to the next model is important as asking to collaborate on a project may not be enough. You need to demonstrate why you are the right model for the job.
Do stand out from the crowd:
If you wish to make an impact at a fashion show or event make sure you know their work really well. By adding a personal touch and explaining what pieces you love about their work and why will demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in their work.
Do dress appropriately:
Choose an outfit that you feel comfortable and confident in. Don’t opt for an item that distracts you from the task in hand. Tripping in high heels or skirts that keep riding up your pins are a definite faux pas for fashion events. An appropriate, suitable outfit for the occasion will allow for you to concentrate on creating meaningful links.
Don’t get distracted by your phone:
Be present at the event by resisting spending the whole evening on your phone. Of course, it is important to check in on Facebook, post a few Instagram pics and tweet about the event yet don’t spend the duration on your phone missing vital mingling time. Smile and initiate conversations as most of the people there will just be as nervous as you.
Do stay sober:
Keep the amount of alcohol you consume to a minimum to avoid embarrassment and saying the wrong think. Don’t wait for connections to come to you, initiate an interesting conversation asking questions to really get the dialogue going.
Don’t forget to listen:
It is important to listen to their answers and respond appropriately. Sometimes at the worst possible moments we zone out and loose concentration. Ensure that you stay focus to look engaged and interested in what they have to say.
Do work through the correct channels:
Keep it professional by contacting potential clients via appropriate platforms. Email and phone are typically the best ways to approach industry professionals.
Don’t harass through social media:
Avoid harassment via social media as it looks unprofessional and may annoy individuals. Keep social media activity to uploading content to market yourself.
Do wait the appropriate amount of time:
Waiting for a response can be difficult yet be patient. Follow up three days/a week later to remind them of your original email. Don’t always expect a reply as most of your outreach won’t be replied too unfortunately.
Don’t send multiple emails:
Keep a record of your links to contact them at a later date. Send an email or ring in person but do not continue to email after three times. Many professionals are extremely busy and do not have the time to reply to every enquiry unfortunately.
Do go it alone:
Be brave and go alone. Although the experience is intimidating it will force you to communicate with others. When individuals go to events in groups they tend to stay together missing crucial contacts.
Don’t stay with familiar faces:
If you do attend with your model friends make a promise to split for a segment of the event. This way you will speak to new people and then can meet back up later safe in the knowledge that you have networked efficiently. Also, the strategy allows for you to cover more ground than networking together.
Building your own brand as a model
When posting photographs on social media ensure that you tag everyone involved – the photographer, stylist, make-up artist and anyone else relevant – main creative team. They will probably do the same ensuring that your handle will be shared with their followers too. By tagging the creative team you will acknowledge their hard work and show appreciation making a valuable connection.
Marketing yourself via Instagram is a good idea! It is the perfect platform to advertise your skills and can easily become an online portfolio. Agents do look to Instagram platforms to find new models and talent. Do be wary when contacted via social media and be sure to check out their legitimacy before pursuing. It is a great way to build a network with other insta-models by commenting, liking and following.
Build a good relationship with your agent
As mentioned earlier, building a strong relationship with your agency is vital to your success. Their network circle will be large and therefore it is important to utilise this to your advantage. By creating a good working relationship their links and connections will be offered to you if an opportunity arises. Also, by representing the agency at the role you will strengthen their reputation and their relationship with the brand.
How to build a good client base
Trust is an important factor in your networking circle. If you make a promise ensure that you keep it as if you go back on your word you may loose their trust immediately as well as their contacts. Also, do not keep you connections to yourself yet share your network with others. Take on the role of connector. If two people have a similar project idea or interest introduce them to each other as the good deed will be rewarded back to you at a later date. They will be truly thankful and may return the favour later down the line.
A good, quality network does not necessary mean a large one. A circle of 20 individuals who work in various sections of the industry who know you well is more beneficial than 100 who can’t remember you name – you know – calls you Emily rather than Emma. The key is to build relationships rather than numbers. Find a balance of a strong relationship that is also professional too – they don’t have to become your next BFF but more of a relationship that you can rely on.
How to make good impression
To build a good reputation and a strong network making a good impression is vital. A large, fruitful network does not happen from a quick conversation at an event. It is developed year after year from offering good work, attending countless events and staying true to your word. A casting agent will prefer to offer the job to a trusted model over a model he has only uttered a couple of words to. A successful network needs to be nurtured and maintained throughout your career. Arrive on time to every casting/photoshoot to create a reliable reputation. Leave enough time to travel scheduling any potential delays.
What are Z-cards?
These are business cards for models. Complete with your photographs, statistics and contacts the z-cards will be useful whilst networking. Ensure that you have the business cards to hand at all times to give to connections you have made. If a professional wishes to make contact they will easily have your details ready. Do not be afraid to email any contacts that you have connected with at the event. Keep the email follow up small and include information on how to keep in touch with you.
Overall, networking is highly influential to your model career. It takes dedication and commitment to build and maintain a large and quality circle. Initiating conversations, listening and showing interest is a big part of your success. Invest in Z-cards to hand out fashion events and parties to advertise yourself on the go.