Ever heard the term ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’? It couldn’t be truer for models. Networking can form a huge part of a model’s success. Marketing yourself by making connections and making a good first impression is vital for providing yourself with more opportunities and links within the fashion world.
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, but the benefits far outweigh any initial discomfort.
To help you network in the modelling industry, we have curated tips and advice to get you started.
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What Is Networking?
Networking is a term for communicating and interacting with individuals within your industry to build relationships. The aim is to develop strong connections that will result in more work and a successful career.
A large network allows fashion models to get regular jobs or other opportunities through word-of-mouth, or by being recommended. The modelling industry can be nepotistic, so knowing who to approach and having others put in a good word for you will be hugely beneficial, particularly for a model who is unknown and just starting out.
How Do I Network?
To network, all you have to do is start conversations and create relationships with the people you work with. This is why it’s important to be nice to everyone you meet – you never know how they could help you out in the future.
It can be intimidating approaching strangers in a room full of people you don’t know. A great way to make a new connection is to have a mutual friend introduce you; this takes the pressure off having to approach them alone.
More confident models may indeed wish to approach people on their own. This is an excellent way of creating contacts as long as you are not interrupting people, and learn to know when the right moment is. Constantly harassing the same person will also not gain you any positive comments; if someone is not interested in meeting or knowing you, leave them with a good impression by being polite and hard working.
A friendly, natural approach is well received and will help you introduce yourself with ease. Making good impressions at modelling jobs is the easiest way to make connections as you will already be talking to your co-workers and employers.
Don’t just befriend the people hiring you; be polite and friendly to everyone you meet, including other models. Ensure 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.
A model is constantly on the move and must work with new people constantly, so finding new people to talk to shouldn’t be a problem. However, if a model is struggling to break into the industry, scouring the latest hot-spots like on-trend bars, restaurants and clubs should allow you to meet other aspiring models.
The best way to meet other people is through other people. You may already have a connection to someone in the industry without realising. Ask your friends and family and, if they do know someone, ask them to introduce you.
Most of a model’s networking will be done on the job, as it is the easiest and most effective way. The models you work with, the make-up artist, the photographer – all these people have potential to find you future work. Be kind, friendly and endeavour to be memorable to all of them.
Fashion parties, exhibitions and shows such as fashion week are the perfect time to network with industry professionals. A room full of like-minded people who are interested in the creative world are ideal contacts to have in your little black book. If you live in a large city such as London, Paris or Los Angeles there will be an event to go to most nights of the week, you just have to find the right ones for you.
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 their posts and pictures may eventually get you on their radar.
If an event is about a specific topic, ensure you do your research. You want to be impressive during conversations and know your stuff; not knowing about an events cause will leave you with little to say and leave people underwhelmed.
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.
Casting calls are also the perfect time to impress. This is a great time to impress brands and the people responsible for their photoshoots. Though it is likely you will be rejected from many (as is the nature of the job), if you are memorable and likeable you may be called for future campaigns that you are more suitable for.
Model Networking Sites
There are plenty of 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.
Forums are great for asking questions and learning names, but do not rely on them; you are far more likely to make a good and memorable impression in-person. People come across differently online.
Who Should I Network With?
The industry is known for its competitive nature, with each high fashion and commercial models having to look 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, they may return the favour.
Creating a strong relationship with your modelling agency opens up their network to you. When suitable opportunities arise, your agent will think of you offering you the job over others.
Make friends with your agent. They are not just your boss; if they like you, they will want to help you succeed.
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, fashion 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 and hopefully lasting 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 their story and life. Ask questions to find out a little more about them. 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.
Never tell someone you are talking to them in order to network; they will think you are just using them for their connections.
Don’t Just Ask For a Job Outright
Try to offer something to the client rather than blatantly asking for a job. Give them a reason to hire you that is different to the next model. Asking to collaborate on a project may not be enough. You need to demonstrate why you are the right person to think of when a job comes up in the future.
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, you will demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in their work and them as a person, not just as a connection.
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 outfit for the occasion will allow for you to concentrate on creating meaningful links.
Try to wear something that emphasizes your nest features. Remember, a model can constantly market themselves by looking great.
Don’t Get Distracted by Your Phone
Be present at the event by resisting the temptation to spend the whole evening on your phone. Of course, it is important to post a few Instagram pictures and tweet about the event to keep your social media platforms updated, but 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.
Be mindful that being on your phone constantly is rude to event hosts as it will appear you are bored. It will also put off people from approaching you to talk as you will look like you are trying to avoid talking to people.
Don’t Forget to Listen
It is important to listen to people’s answers and respond appropriately. Sometimes at the worst possible moments, we zone out and lose concentration. Ensure that you stay focused to look engaged and interested in what they have to say.
A conversation should never be just about you. Refrain from talking endlessly about yourself and make sure you ask many questions. Listening is polite and shows your interest. People love those who listen and respect us; you will be far more likely to be remembered for all the right reasons if the talker feels that you are listening with interest.
Do Stay Sober
Keep the amount of alcohol you consume to a minimum to avoid embarrassment. Alcohol also causes many to say the wrong thing; remember, you’re trying to make a great first impression. You can’t afford to say anything that may embarrass or humiliate you.
You are trying to make contacts for professional purposes, not social ones. You therefore want to appear professional at all times.
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.
Don’t Send Multiple Emails
Keep a record of your new contacts so you can contact them at a later date. Send an email or phone them.
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 which results in missing crucial contacts.
A model is often put into situations where they do not know anyone. Talking to strangers will help boost your confidence and you’ll soon get used to it.
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.
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. 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 great 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 and industry professionals. Comment, like, and follow people to build your contacts up.
Build a Good Relationship With Your Agent
As mentioned earlier, building a strong relationship with your model agency is vital to your success. Their network circle will be large and it’s therefore 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.
Remember, too, that by representing an agency when you land a job, 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; going back on your word may lose their trust immediately as well as their contacts.
Do not keep your connections to yourself; 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 necessarily 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 your name. The key is to build genuine relationships rather than numbers. Find the balance of a strong relationship that is also professional too – they don’t have to become your next BFF, but they do have to be someone that you can rely on.
How to Make Good Impression
To build a good reputation and a strong network, making a good first 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?
A z-card is a business card 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 modelling 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.