I was delighted to speak at the recent NYCMER (New York Museum Educator's Roundtable) Career Symposium on the subject of "Building a Network" alongside two excellent co-presenters, Kinneret Kohn and Leah Golubchick.
While we covered a number of great networking tips and tricks, my part of the session focused on 3 Networking DON'Ts
1) DON'T Hide Your Work
Make sure to share your work widely so that people can get a sense of the way you think and whether you might make a great creative partner for their next project. No matter what sort of work you do, there are websites and apps that can help you promote your work and grow your professional network.
Is your work visual? Maybe Instagram is right for you. Do you like to write? Start a blog! YouTube for videos, Twitter for quick takes -- at the very least, you should spruce up your LinkedIn listing!
If you need some additional inspiration to put your work out into the world -- check out Austin Kleon's excellent book called "Show Your Work!"
2) DON'T Forget Your Business Cards!
I tell every mentee and emerging museum professional I work with to not forget their business cards! In our digital world, business cards might seem decidedly "old school" and yet there is something memorable in the tiny transaction -- especially if the recipient says "Great card!"
I use (and really like!) MOO's "Printfinity" business cards -- the fronts stay the same, but you can add different images or designs onto the back of each card. It's like keeping a portfolio of your work in your pocket -- and is also a fantastic way to create a memorable interaction when you give someone your business card. (Here's a discount link to MOO that will save you 25% on your first order!)
If you are still determinedly digital, then at the very least maximize your email signature! In addition to contact details, you can include links to any of your online assets -- your blog, YouTube, what have you.
I use WiseStamp to help liven up my email signature (as shown below.)
When you contact someone to ask about a job or to introduce yourself, don't just leave it at that.
Provide some additional value in the form of an article you've written, some information about a particularly interesting or innovative aspect of a recent project, or even a link to a Web article about the museum world that you found interesting.
Similarly, even if your primary purpose is inquiring about a potential job -- don't let them off the hook! If you only ask about a job, and there's no job available, then that's the end of the conversation. However, if you ask for some additional advice or ideas about your next steps, you might get some useful information that you otherwise might not have received.
For example, you might say or write, "Even if you don't have any current job openings, do you have any suggestions for colleagues I might speak with or recent books or articles I could read to expand my knowledge of the museum field?" Most museum folks are generous and willing to provide a little advice -- and it sure takes the sting out of a rejection notice!
I hope these three sets of tips inspire you to expand your own professional network.
In that vein, I'm always happy to network with ExhibiTricks readers! You can connect with me via the Social Media links above, or feel free to contact me directly to introduce yourself. Who knows? We might be able to cook up a project to work on together!
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Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!
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