Networking and Confidence

A couple of weeks ago I attended a networking event for artists in Providence. I'd like to report that I was smiling and poised and taking business cards left and right. That's how I wanted to be. But in truth I was sweating, feeling awkward, and a bit terrified. There were some serious artists in the room - sculptors, painters - and I felt a little out of place with my "crafty" background. I kept fighting the urge to run for the door, go home and put on my pjs. Which is really where I prefer to be, like, always.

But I stuck through it. I swallowed my fears as best I could, focused on this as a learning experience, and shook some hands.

I met one woman in particular who just floored me - in good ways and bad. These are the words that came out of her mouth when she was telling me about her work: "I really set trends in the art world." "I'm doing an exhibition here in Providence in the spring, and since so much of my work is international, this is my little gift to Rhode Island." There were some other gems, too, that I can't remember now. I bumbled awkwardly as her over-confidence and my under-confidence collided. I was searching for an explanation of my "work" that would be half as succinct and well-rehearsed as hers.

Even re-telling this encounter, I'm finding myself putting quotations around my "craft" and my "work."

Which tells me that I really need to work on my elevator pitch.

I'm wondering - was it just me, or do you think everyone in that room was sweating and feeling awkward? Will I grow out of that anxiety and at some point find myself enjoying being in a room full of strangers?


  1. Some people never seem to sweat it. I don't usually like those people very much. I wish I could do the schmoozing thing, but I'm terrible at that shit. At least you were brave and showed up! You probably couldn't have paid me to go!

    I would have wanted to punch that woman with her gift to Rhode Island. I met a woman like that over the summer: she was "slumming" it at the Women's Expo in Attleboro and getting mad that I was making sales every few minutes and she hadn't made a single $1000-for-a-not-so-cute-necklace sale. hah. She kept coming over to my booth and making snide comments. Seriously. She sucked.

    I have a name for people like that. PAFs. Pretentious Art Fill-in-the-blank's. Ick.

    But, re anxiety, I think if you kept going to events, it would eventually become old hat. I still get nervous before I start a new jewelry class, but the anxiety lessens with each class. My problem is that I interact way better with tweens & teens than with adults...

  2. That woman you were talking too sounded like a complete *sfe* pretentious artist. Not everyone sweats and freaks out. If you are confident in your work then its a lot easier to talk about. Thats What i found. But i was always my bumbling awkward self. My work isnt international but i got mentions in the local paper over my "controversial" piece (of photography) in a somewhat religious town. I didnt do much talking.
    Im not a big one for face to face networking. Online is so much easier. Ive found that local artists etc are adding me on sites which is strange.. local businesses too.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts, Moira and Claire! It's good to know that there are others out there thinking about the same things...


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