Incognito Resources

You're Overthinking It

I’ve talked to many people about the whole process of networking. And I found it daunting at first. When you are in school, all your teachers are telling you. “It is all about who you know.” That can be terrifying to think about, especially when you may be shy or may face anxieties within social situations.

It isn’t as complicated as you think. There is not a script you tell people when you try to “network” with them. There also isn’t a target person to network with. You are constantly networking whether it is your friends, roommates, instructors, or customers. The process of networking is simply being remembered by an individual as someone who would be good to work with.

Often, all it takes is to be kind and respectful to others. If you are rude to someone, do you think they would ever bring up your name for a job? If you are kind, great to work with, and they find a job that would be good for you, they would be more likely to recommend you for that job.

Although networking and etiquette is not a concept that many understand, I have provided some tips and guidelines to help you make connections and hopefully succeed within the field.

Drained Illustration by Incognito Artist

Social Media Etiquette

In this age of social media, a lot of networking can be done online. People often wonder how people have thousands or even millions of followers on social media. Often, this is through networking. People do not solely follow you for your work, or if they do, they will leave if you do not have good social media etiquette.

Don't Solely Focus on Growing your Following

So many people ask for tips on how to grow a following. It may sound nice to get many likes or have huge amounts of followers but these do not truly equate to income. If you are focused on these topics, they tend to show and people are less likely to want to interact with you. You can still make an income through a smaller income if you network with those connections and are respectful.

This will be discussed more later, but if you often complain about how many likes your posts are getting or your follower count, it can disconnect you from your followers as well as make you sound less approachable. It may be discouraging to get lower numbers, but it does more harm to talk about it in that matter.

Distinguish Between Professional and Personal

There are many uses for social media. Often it is a form to connect with family and friends. However, if you are using it for art and as a freelancer, I recommend making a second account for your personal photos.

I know with the story feature in Instagram, it is simple to include spurts of daily life. It can be helpful to do so to help people remember you are a person who does regular things, however try not to stray far from your focal point. If you focus on art, do not post extensive work out advice. For one, that is not what they follow you for, and secondly, talking about what you have not been focused on or are trained in can be dangerous and lead to legal trouble.

Also make sure to distinguish your relationships. This can be hard as a smaller artists as some people do not understand the boundaries of a professional relationship when they feel that simply because you do not have a large following, you should give them special treatment. This is not the case. Relationships can be friendly and respectful but need to be professional.

Constructive and Respectful Criticism

When posting artwork, some may be hoping to get feedback to improve. Make sure that they desire criticism. If they do not ask for it, it may not be best to do so. Some people cannot handle criticism and will interpret it as rude (even if it is not).

Even if they do request it, take note of their reaction and their tone. Some may say they would like criticism and get extensively defensive. It can be frustrating to deal with individuals who insist your wrong even when you are a professional. Be respectful and apologize if necessary and just remember not to provide criticism for them again, at least until they learn how to handle it.

The most successful way to give critical criticism is to use the sandwich method. People don’t just want to hear what is wrong with their work. If you notice something wrong, say something good about their work, then say what they could improve and then finish with something good. This will usually not cause them to feel too negatively about your comment.

Positive critique is good as well. Often as people’s work evolved, they change things. Tell them what they are doing well so they can continue to work on that. People love to hear positive comments on their work. Be as engaging as you can within your capabilities and attempt to lean more on the positive side.

Keep Complaints to a Minimum

People tend to avoid other negative people. Seeing it on social media can simply bring people down. If you are constantly complaining, whether about algorithms or other people (this is a big no-no), people will get annoyed and not want to work with you.

Often people look to how you present yourself and what you are dealing with as how you would work in a professional situation. Employers will look at this and determine whether or not to choose to work with you.

It is okay to say you are dealing with something. There have been debates about whether to bring medical concerns up on the internet. As this is something that interferes with work, I would recommend bringing it up as a means of informing your inability to work, not as a means to receive pity. I am one to encourage sharing whether you are going through burnout, depression, or medical issues.

This can help others come forward about what they are doing. I feel this is different than complaining. This is simply providing information. You only have to be as detailed as you would like (however if it is graphic, I would recommend providing as little detail as possible). Also, do not use these terms if you are not truly facing these issues. Mental health is not a joking matter and you will alienate people within your following.

Maintain a Focal Point

It is best to avoid really controversial topics unless it may be in regards to a group which needs support (an example of a topic to avoid may be religion while a topic you could discuss is sexual assault). Although both are serious topics, the one could alienate a group of people while the latter, if supporting the victims, could be beneficial. 
 
Just don’t do any hate speech. Even if, for whatever reason, you dislike a group of people, do not make it known or else you could lose potential clients and employers. Just don’t be a jerk to anyone.
 
Steer clear of income discussion. It may be great to talk about your success but talking about money can create a distance between you and your clients. It may make it seem like you simply focus on money. Income discussion is different from discussing pay rates for your work.
 
Do not talk about clients. If you talk about your clients, people will be afraid to work with you as they are afraid you are judging them and will talk about them as well. No one likes to be talked about. Especially if you are dealing with anything told to you in private.
 
Avoid bombarding your followers with ads and sponsorships. It is great to get another source of income however remember that they are following you for specific content. If most of your content is using products you were paid to use or given to make a sponsored post, they no longer know what you are doing because you enjoy.
 
This is where there is the concern from individuals about being a “sellout.” I think this term is quite inaccurate in today’s day and age, however the idea they are getting at is they do not want people to solely share content they were paid to share. They want to see what they originally came for.

Commission Etiquette

As a Client

Often artists will commission other clients. Your interactions with other artists is a form of networking. Artist will remember how you treated them whether they are the client or the freelancer. So make sure to make the entire experience respectful from either prospective.
 
We often hear horror stories of artists getting messages saying their commission rates are too high or angry at why they won’t do a certain commission. If you are attempting to argue with an artist, they will not want to work with you. Ever. They will not recommend you to someone else. You may think why would they recommend you if you are buying their work? Often if they have a positive experience, or if you are a common supporter, they will look into who you are and what you do as appreciation of the support. They remember who supports them.

As the Artist

Overall, don’t be rude. Now, I know this is hard when people want to argue with you over your commission prices or the content or with stealing work. Think about jobs in retail where the customer is screaming about a customer. You are not supposed to scream back. You are simply supposed to respectfully tell them again and get a manager if necessary.
 
Now you do not have a manager to go to but if you have a record of all pre-arrangements, simply bring up old records of agreements made or direct them to your prices page. Simply respectfully state facts and decline the job if they refuse to cooperate.
 
You may ask why be respectful when they will most likely not commission you again. Often, if an artist is rude, they will either try to call you out on social media. This is disrespectful but it can affect your image. Additionally, if they come to their senses, they may come back. It is overall just in your best interest to be respectful.

Networking In Person

Everyone is part of your network. Everyone is able to be part of your network. All your relationships you form can help you get a job. Even if it doesn’t seem so. Your classmates, your roommates, your co-workers, your customers, every person you interact with is a possible person in your network. How is this so? If they were to come across a job that would suit you that they have more authority to recommend you, that is a connection you would want to have.
 
Let me provide an example. You are in college. You have two roommates who are all the same major, aiming for the same career. Lets call them Anna and Natalie. One of your roommates, Natalie, lands a pretty good position. She hears of an opening in her job that would be good for both you and Anna. However, you were rude to Natalie, disrespected the rules and never did your chores. The other roommate was kind, did all their work and made an effort to get to know her. Natalie is more likely to get the job. It is Natalie’s character on the line which is something she must consider when suggesting someone.

DISCLAIMER: None of the content on this site is sponsored. Any sponsored content will remain on social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. I want to solely provide unbiased resources for you to use. Also, much of the content is not owned by me and will redirect you to other creator’s sites. I am not stealing their work not claiming it as my own. I am simply pointing you in their direction.