Networking is a huge part of a model’s career and can have a big impact on their success in the industry. Making connections and making good first impressions is vital in getting more opportunities within the fashion world.
Building authentic connections takes time and isn’t always easy. The fashion world is intimidating and full of people who aren’t always looking for new friends, so finding your way and making genuine connections with people doesn’t happen overnight.
Models that are able to build a large network have an edge over others when it comes to getting more bookings or other opportunities through word-of-mouth, or by being recommended by others in the industry. The fashion crowd is small and a tough one to get into, so knowing who to approach and having others put in a good word for you will be hugely beneficial, especially if you are just starting out.
Networking isn’t about sucking-up though, you don’t want to create fake relationships with people. The goal of successful networking is to develop strong lasting connections that will result in more work and a successful career.
Contrary to popular belief, many models are actually quite shy and introverted, so it can be rather difficult to know where to begin when it comes to networking. Don’t overthink it! All you have to do is start conversations and create relationships with the people around you on bookings or at castings. This is why it’s so important to be kind and open to everyone you meet – you never know who you could hit it off with and what connections they may have in the industry. One of the best and easiest ways to make good connections is being professional, polite, and hard working. You should always be ready to interact as you never know when a conversation may transform into a potential opportunity.
Some of the best places for a model to network are:
On Set- Showing up to a booking with a good attitude and making the effort to speak to everyone involved at the shoot or runway show is a great way to create connections. Making a good impression on the job gives you the chance of being personally recommended to other contacts people on set may have.
Fashion Events- Even if you weren’t booked for a show, attending as a guest is a great way to rub shoulders with other fashion professionals and to have your face be seen. If an event is for a certain designer or benefitting any type of foundation or cause, make sure you do your research before you arrive. You want to know your stuff during conversations. Not knowing anything about an event’s cause will make it seem like you’re just there for the party and limit what you can bring to a conversation.
Casting Calls- This is a great time to impress brands and the people responsible for their bookings. Even if you’re not booked for the project the casting was for, if you made a memorable impression, you may be called for future campaigns that you are more suitable for.
Social Media- Using social media as a way to network is a great way to get your name and face out there. Follow events, designers, photographers, hair/makeup artists and other fashion professionals to keep up to date with what they have going on. Commenting and liking their posts and pictures may eventually get you on their radar and could lead to jobs.
Some Common Dos and Don’ts to follow when networking:
Do Be Genuine: Ensure that you show a true interest in the person you’re trying to connect with. Ask questions to find out a little more about them like how long they’ve been in the industry and if they have any other fun projects they’re working on. An easy conversation starter and good way to get to know someone is bringing up pets and if they have any.
Don’t just speak to the people you think will be able to do something for you, and certainly never tell someone you are talking to them just for the sake of networking. You never know who will have what connections, so connect with people with the pure intent of getting to know them better. It may not always go well, but you never know when you might meet a true friend, additional connections or not!
Don’t Forget to Listen: It is important to listen to people’s answers and respond appropriately. Stay focused and engaged in what they have to say. Refrain from talking endlessly about yourself and what you have going on.
Do Know Your Stuff: If you wish to make a good impression to another industry professional, do some research on their work. By adding a personal touch and explaining what specific things you love about things that they have done, you will demonstrate that you are genuinely interested and to know what you’re talking about.
Don’t Just Ask for a Job: Just asking to “collaborate” is something fashion industry professionals get asked all the time, and it gets really old. Try to offer something to the potential client rather than blatantly asking for a job. Give them a reason to hire you that is different then any of the other models that ask to collaborate and demonstrate why you are the right person to think of when a job comes up in the future.
Do Stay Sober: Even if the event you’re attending has an open bar, keep the amount of alcohol you consume to a minimum. Alcohol also causes many to say the wrong thing or act unprofessional and when you’re trying to make a great first impression, this won’t be a good look.
If alcohol is offered to you on set, the most professional thing to do is decline, even if others are drinking. Remember you’re there to work, it’s not a happy-hour.
Don’t Get Lost in Your Phone: Be present and resist the temptation to mindlessly scroll your phone during downtime at an event or on a booking. Have actual conversations with the people around you, and only pull your phone out to exchange information. Keeping your nose in your phone will also put off people from approaching you as you will look like you’re bored or trying to avoid talking to people.
Do Give it Some Time: As I stated above, networking takes time and work. Making all the right connections doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes they don’t pan out how you hope they will. Give it some time and give yourself some grace as you put yourself out there and get to know people in the industry.
Don’t Be Too Pushy: Avoid being annoying or harassing anyone by monitoring how often you try to connect to someone and reading social cues you get in return. If they just aren’t being receptive to you, that’s ok, time to move on. If you continue to try to force a connection or are constantly reaching out to them about bookings or things that they’re doing that you want to be a part of, you can actually be rubbing them the wrong way and making them not want to work with you, which is the opposite of what you want. If you’ve reached out a few times and they’re not giving you anything in return or showing any kind of interest, it’s time to back off a bit and give it some time before trying again.