We’ve discussed almost all the main points in networking. Social media, chance encounters…. And, if you really want to insert yourself into the industry, attend all the events! Events are big for networking. Other than fun, one of the main reasons people come out to an event is to meet new people. Get out of the house to an industry event, mingle, be personable. People will start to know your face, see it around a lot, and make connections. Never stop looking for friendly people to strike up conversation with. I have met extremely valuable and helpful people just by taking my time to model in shows and attending the after parties.
FINDING EVENTS: So, how do you know where the events are? Well, now that you’re effectively networking within the industry, meeting people on industry related social media sites, opportunities should start popping up. When you’re friends with a lot of people on Facebook, the event invites will undoubtedly follow. They might even get annoying. Don’t get annoyed too soon, though. Check them out! Give them a chance.
When you’re in the fashion industry like me, you’ll want to keep a lookout for local designer fashion shows, charity shows, in-store parties and promotions, photo shoots, castings, and more.
8 GREAT TOOLS TO FIND EVENTS:
- Facebook.com & other social media
- Local websites
- Local bulletin boards
- Current network connections
Review the event you’re considering attending before going or purchasing tickets. If it looks like it will be a large turn out, it should be worth your time. If it is your first event, it will be helpful if you have a friend to introduce you to others. The venue is a good indicator of the quality of the event, too. Take a look at all the details and decide whether to go or not from there.
BUDGETING: The next step in the decision process is determining if the event will be worth your money. Most events (not all, however), require guests to purchase tickets. Fashion show events can range anywhere between $15 to $30 for a charity or even $200 to $300 for VIP seating at a high quality venue.
Take a look at your budget. You know what you can afford. If $15 or $30 every few weeks or so is asking a lot, then make sure you are selective with the events you are attending and really do your research.
Try to get in for free. Email or call the people in charge and see if you can be placed behind the scenes. Volunteering your time in exchange for getting in free may actually increase your networking capacity, since you will be learning, working, and meeting like-minded individuals all at once.
WHAT TO WEAR:
Now that you’re in, you want to make sure more than anything to leave a good impression.You must wear the appropriate clothing. Just as discussed before, you don’t want to go out looking unprofessional. Looking and feeling under-dressed chips at your confidence and people are likely to overlook you.
If you look the part, you feel the part, even if you’re new and really have no idea what you’re doing. When you dress appropriately, a better impression is left on others and they will take you more seriously. Take a look at your icons. Find stylish photos and incorporate your own style. Dress up. Iron your shirt. Look crisp and fresh. Check to see if the event has a dress code. Specific to modeling and the fashion industry, you can usually tell who is who from their appearance and garb. Examples are provided below.
Models: Obviously a model will be tall, thin, and pretty. She will also be wearing flattering, fitted clothing and heels or nice flats. Some great places for a model to shop are H&M, Forever 21, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and, if she’s getting thrifty, there are always good finds at Goodwill. The atmosphere is generally more casual backstage, depending on if the models have been running around the city all day for other shows and castings. Backstage, models need to make quick changes, have few lines on their bodies, and are sometimes on location all day, so just wearing something comfortable will suffice.
Photographers: Photographers are pretty free to express their individual style. From my experience, nice shoes, jeans, and a crisp blazer or layer is sufficient. You can always spot a photographer. You know why? They’re always carrying *gasp* thousands of dollars around their necks. A bulky camera always looks official.
Designers: Designers are the epitome of individual style. Just like a model’s body is her work, a designer’s outfit is his. I’d say most designers want to stand out and want to shout a statement to their audience. Some designers will wear something casual, some will sport their own designs, and others will be some unique combination of expression. It is safe to assume that the designers are central to industry events and fashion shows, so it shouldn’t be too hard to spot them.
When in doubt, play it safe and dress it up!
WHO: Decide who will be the most beneficial connection to you and make sure you are introduced before the end of the event. If it were me, I’d be keeping my eye on them all evening! I would be introducing myself to bigger names, photographers, designers, and casting directors.
Have business cards on you! Models, if you’re agency represented and can’t decide if you should share your business card versus comp cards, evaluate the event. If it’s filled more with people connected to your agency, definitely go for the comp cards. In my previous part 2 post, there is a discussion on how to go about creating your own business cards. Don’t go anywhere without them!
As previously discussed, get your information to the person(s) you want to connect with, but make sure to get theirs and take initiative to follow up with them. The more positive connections you make and the more of those people who have your information, the better.
CONVERSATION STARTERS: Leave a good, intelligent impression on the people you are trying to connect with. “Keep your eye on” the people you’d like to introduce yourself to, but don’t freak them out. Keeping your eye on them isn’t a literal interpretation!
16 Effective conversation starters:
- Small talk:
- “That’s a gorgeous necklace.”
- “It’s chilly in here, isn’t it?”
- “I love that blouse.”
- “This food is amazing.”
- “We got lucky with the weather, huh?”
- Acknowledge who they are:
- “I love your designs. This one in particular appeals to me….”
- “You look familiar, are you….?”
- “Thanks for photographing the event, is there a way to get photos?”
- “I am a huge fan of your work.”
- Seize the opportunity:
- “Nice catch/save.”
- “Excuse me, did you drop this?”
- “Do you need a hand with that? Here let me help….”
- The bold and the classic:
- “Hi, my name is…. What’s your name?”
- “How did you hear about the event?”
- “How do you know the hostess?”
- “Are you from….?”
Remember to be genuine, be you! You want to impress, but not at the expense of being fake. Make the most of your networking event, follow up with your connections, and most importantly, have fun! You are here because you love what you do.
Briauna Mariah (: