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Make Time for Online Networking

by Alyson Stanfield

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It happened again! I talk to a group of artists about using social media like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I tell them that this is part of a marketing program and that, yes, it will take time. I warn them not to get sidetracked using social media and forget to go into the studio-that the studio is always the priority. Still, they grumble, whine, and make excuses. (I had spies at the lunch table after my talk!)


ALL worthwhile marketing takes time. You would love for me to hand you the name of an agent that will sweep you off your feet and whisk you off into the stars, wouldn't you? You'd prefer that you can just buy a bunch of ads or send out a single mailing and have all of your dreams come true. Yeah, that would be nice all right. But what planet are you living on?


This is Earth. April 2009. We're bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages each day. You have to learn to build meaningful relationships that will propel your career forward. You must keep your name in front of people you're in contact with. Networking online is one of the cheapest, easiest, and most effective ways to do that.


In order to avoid being overwhelmed by all of the social media opportunities available, you might be best served by carving out time for them. This isn't something you do in a block of time one day a week. Instead, you need to do a little bit every day. I suggest starting with 15-30 minutes a day for logging in to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. That's enough to create and maintain a presence.


You could spend longer on these sites, but I advise you to monitor your time. It's easy to get caught up in other people's tweets, questions, and photos. Whenever you catch yourself doing this, stop and remember that you only have 15-30 minutes. Ask yourself: Do I really need to spend time on this right now? Is it the best use of my time? This awareness will pull you back to reality and what is most important for your art business.


Tara Reed, of Art Licensing Info, has a Twitter philosophy to reduce your stress about this fast-paced site. She calls it the "Zen of Twitter."

Don't worry about what you might have missed when you
weren't looking, just assume that the tweets you are meant
to see are the ones on the screen when you are inspired to look.


It's perfect, and it might easily be applied to Facebook and LinkedIn. Look only at what's on the screen. There's no need to dig for older posts.


In carving out time in your schedule for online networking, select a time of day that is best for you and your working rhythms. For instance, if your best creative time is 9 a.m. to noon, don't spend your time on the computer during those hours-unless you use the computer to make your art! One last piece of sage advice is to use a timer. Set your timer to the minutes you have allotted and spend no more time than that. It's amazing what you can accomplish under the pressure of an anticipated buzzer.


KNOW THIS----~> You have 100% control over your time.


THINK ABOUT THIS-~> Are you carving out the time you need to promote your art most effectively?


DO THIS----~> Carve out time for online networking. Don't whine or complain-especially to me. Just to it. There are too many artists out there for you to sit back and hope this is a passing fad. Be grateful for all of these free and low-cost self-promotion tools that artists a generation ago didn't have.


Alyson Stanfield is the author of I'd Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion. She has been consulting with artists to help build their art businesses since 2002.




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