Why Artists Fail at Networking

By Carolyn Edlund


Three colorful women

“Blue Graces” by artist       Traci O’Very Covey

In order to find opportunities and resources, artists have to connect with others. In-person networking and online social networking are excellent ways to make those connections and receive referrals.


Then why do so many artists feel that networking doesn’t work for them?


Artists, like many other businesspeople, often miss the boat when it comes to networking effectively. They attend an event thinking, “Let’s see what kind of leads or prospects I can get.” They meet other people, introduce themselves, talk about their work, and hand out business cards to see if they can get any bites. But usually they don’t – and they give up.


That’s because they are working backwards.


Networking is a strategy that really does work. If you don’t believe it, take a look at the “Top 10 Ways Galleries Find Artists.” The first two listed are:

  1. Artist Recommendations
  2. Curator Recommendations


Why are artists recommended? Because they are known, trusted and appreciated by others who respect them and want to refer them. They have a network of connections who are happy to give assistance to them. And they are active in assisting their network.

The way that you become known and referred is through building relationships with others – and being willing to refer them, without expecting anything in return.

The secret to successful networking, both in-person and online, is to approach it with an attitude of giving, not receiving. You will receive referrals from your network, but many times they are from different people than the ones you help. When you actively seek to give referrals, you create good “karma” for yourself because


As you give – so you shall receive


Your willingness to get to know other people, to listen to them, understand what they do and develop a professional friendship is the seed that will eventually bring business back to you.

It takes time and effort to build a network. Persistence is essential, but it’s not that hard to do.  In fact, networking can become a natural part of your everyday business.


Artist Traci O’Very Covey’s work can be seen by visiting her website.



  1. i love what you said –>approach it with an attitude of giving, not receiving. that is so true!i have received sales from other artists that i long admired and started a “relationship” with through my blog or on FaceBook…and they ended up buying a piece of my artwork…you just never know!!

    • That’s right – you don’t know until you meet and become friendly with other people, what the potential is for doing business!

  2. The business of networking is at least fifty percent of my art life.
    I send out real mail. I illustrate the letters, this is a way to get attention. I make phone calls frequently.
    I paid off my house by getting press in the paper.
    Did a BOGO sale.
    Being in touch and doing outreach is part of my artform.
    I network all year, each year. I am however selective in my networking.

    • Bob, What a great comment and congratulations on your efforts! I’m sure you could teach a lot of artists how to work more effectively. Have you ever thought of mentoring other artists in your area?

      • I do coach artists in my area. If they are coachable.
        I am looking for those new students , who will listen.
        I won’t beg anyone to be smarter.
        Some people just can’t handle good words. stuff that works.
        THANKS! for your good words.

  3. Great read! I too loved the part of giving – I donated a painting for the Chelsea FC Members Club last year and have had lots of great feedback and sales – “there is more happiness in giving than recieving”!

    • Glad you have had sales from this. Yes, there is more happiness in giving (think I saw a TED talk on that recently), but always be open to receiving as well. I think you have found that you make your own luck when you put yourself out there and network!

  4. Remember cash back is better than feed back.

  5. I have ways that artists can travel on OPM.
    I have ways that artists can lower there monthly bills.
    I also have ways that artists can operate outside
    of galleries.

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