I wanted to provide a checklist to help you make a great first impression at our Rookie Meetups around the world. I see the same mistakes happen at meetups around the world, but they are so easy to avoid if you follow these simple steps.
1. Have a Goal
Make sure before you attend any event that you think about why you are actually going in the first place. Is it a case of FOMO? Are you looking for job? Do you want to meet other artists in your area? What ever the reason is, figure it out so you don't waste time walking around and end up leaving feeling disappointed.
2. Prepare an Introduction
You never know who you could be standing next to at a meetup so don't waste a chance to introduce yourself and start a conversation. To make a good first impression, prepare a simple 10-20 second introduction that explains who you are, where you are working/studying and what you are hoping to get out of the event. Keep it short and save the finder details until a good conversation unfolds.
3. Have your Portfolio Offline
It may sound obvious, but I am amazed at how often people try to show me their demo reel and fumble around complaining about the wifi. All this tells me is that you are not prepared which is a hard first-impression to dig yourself out of.
Having your digital portfolio available offline is the single most important thing you can do to prepare for a creative meetup.
Make sure to download your demo reel, animations and all your best digital artwork to your phone. Place it in a folder or album and be ready to present it at a moments notice.
4. Provide Context
This is another situation that happens all too often. An artists shows me their portfolio and says "What do you think of my demo reel?".
Before taking this approach and asking such an open-ended question, make sure to provide some context before presenting your work. You will be amazed at how different the response will be.
Here are some simple questions to ask yourself before sharing your work with anyone: Why did you create the project? What skills are you trying to show off? What type of job are you hoping to get with this work? What company you would like to work for? What would you do to improve your project? What challenges were there? What feedback are you hoping to receive?
Based on your answers you can use them to help frame an introduction or describe elements of your work while someone is reviewing your work. Providing this level of context allows you an opportunity to show your communication skills and passion for the industry which will always result in a better first-impression.
5. Don't Rely on Business Cards
Don't get me wrong, business cards look great but I'm much more interested in meeting a person than reading a bit of paper crammed with links to every social media channel out there.
Too often I see artists giving their business card out to everyone in the hope that someone will say they like the picture on the back. My tip is to keep them in your pocket until asked for one. Instead, focus on connecting with someone at the event and then take the initiative to follow up with them after the event.
6. Get to the Point
When you get an opportunity to chat with a recruiter or someone you've been dying to chat with, don't go overboard with the finer details. This is why you need to have a goal in mind before attending. Do you want this person to review your portfolio? Do you want to know about upcoming jobs? Do you want to tell them how much you love their artwork? What ever it is, get the point and build that connection first before you miss an opportunity.
Once you've had a conversation and achieved your goal, be polite and make sure other guests get a chance to network with the same person. The best advice is to say thanks and keep working the room and meeting more people.
7. After the Event
No matter how well you may have impressed someone at a meetup, if you don't follow up it's a missed opportunity. It's incredibly easy too. All it takes is to send a personalised follow-up email or LinkedIn request to anyone you met that you would like to continue networking with.
I'm really looking forward to meeting everyone at SIGGIES in Vancouver next week. Make sure to follow these simple tips before attending our meetup and any other networking events you plan to attend in the future.