These days, networking through physical events and parties would be difficult and not at all recommended due to physical distancing. One option to network safely and from a distance is through virtual, online platforms. When networking professionally, we automatically think of LinkedIn or The Dots – platforms that are made for professional networking. But we should also consider networking through social media platforms – in this case, we’ll be talking about networking on Instagram.
Instagram is very widely known as a social media platform mainly made up of shared images and videos, and has over 1 billion users in 2020, which makes it more likely for you to come across influencers, industry leaders and even CEOs of leading companies on one single platform. When you are a creative professional, networking through Instagram is more organic and less rigid, compared to reaching out on professional networking platforms where requests are generally more generic and stiff. Here are 4 tips on how to fully utilize the art of networking on Instagram:
1. Clean up your profile
Set a clear and cool-looking photo for your Instagram profile picture – as it’s Instagram, it doesn’t have to be too formal. Just make sure the photo is bright enough to show your face, or if you’re promoting a brand, a clear hi-res logo.
One way to have your profile show up in someone’s search is to include your profession in your name. For example, if you are a freelance writer or artist open for commission, write it next to your name, as users sometimes find others by searching specific terms on the Accounts Search tab.
If there are unwanted photos you are tagged in, make sure to remove them, as tagged photos are visible and accessible to others on your profile.
2. Show off your work
If you are an artist or an illustrator with a portfolio, post them on your feed and story. It doesn’t have to be limited to the finished product, feel free to share your progress of your art with your followers too – they will be more likely to interact with you and ask questions!
It’s great to show off your work and photos, but take it a step further and plan your Instagram feed. Planning your feed will make your brand look more cohesive and organized, especially if you are curating a certain kind of aesthetic. Applications like Planoly or Later can help you schedule and plan your posts ahead of time, so users visiting your profile will be amazed at how professional and thematic your feed will be, and will have a better chance of following you.
When posting photos on your feed, remember to include proper hashtags. Using the right hashtags in your captions will better help like-minded users to find your content, and incite engagement.
3. List your target accounts
There are more than 1 billion users on Instagram as of 2020. It is a good idea to seek out and list all the target accounts you would want to follow and for them to follow you. Ideally, it would be users who share the same passion or profession as you do. If you are a designer, check out the hashtags and search for #graphicdesigner #artdirector. You can also search by location and profile account.
Before following them, it is also recommended that you pay attention to their engagement. If they have 10k followers but have an average of less than 100 likes on their photos, they have little to no engagement with the audience. Having a high follower count does not equal attention - numbers don’t matter but influence does.
4.DM them and keep it real
With a polished profile and a list of the accounts you want to target, you are ready. It's time to approach and send them a Direct Message on Instagram!
When you are trying to network on Instagram, it’s easy to get tempted to try to network with the big shots - for example, the VP of a top film production company, or the Chief Design Officer of a design agency. But you wouldn’t be getting much of their attention. You have a better chance of interacting with someone in a similar role - if you are a fashion designer, reach out and connect with a stylist who works in your target company.
Be careful what kind of messages you are sending - it may not be a formal email, but it is still a message that others can read. One tip when you are ‘sliding into their DMs’ is to have an original, non-generic message that proves that you have been paying attention to their work for some time. Keep tabs on what they have been posting, how they interact with their fans and keep it real. Comment on their work, let them know how much you have enjoyed watching their Instagram feed. Be genuine - they will notice your drive to align with their branding and will more likely answer you back.
In today’s era where everything is digitalized, it is within your best interest to create and invest in authentic relationships. As a creative professional, networking on Instagram is one of the best ways to grow and add value to your brand or your business, and will be invaluable in the long run if you manage to do it right.
- Kania Putri, ArtBound Initiative Team
Join the ArtBound Initiative Program to receive further one-on-one career coaching from industry advisors. Become part of our global, professional network of creative professionals who will become key players in their own industries and regions. More info at www.artboundinitiative.com.