Three Steps for Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Art Business


Just like any other startup, opening a successful art business benefits greatly from knowing the right people. For those creative people starting solo or small businesses, access to industry leaders, art attorneys, gallery owners, media publishers and others can help ensure their success. Unfortunately, startups as new entities in the industry, have not been around long enough to interact with industry leaders. LinkedIn, a social network favored by business professionals, provides a platform that can speed up the networking process. On LinkedIn, you can connect with those businesses, such as gallery owners, art collectors, museum curators, equipment manufacturers, which are hard to meet through the normal course of business. Yet, many people building art-related startup companies shy away from LinkedIn, favoring sites like the Behance Network, whose interface is better suited for displaying creative works.  But that’s like leaving money on the table.

Before I explain my strategy for using LinkedIn, let me make one caveat: the LinkedIn approach takes time, patience, and a clear plan.  Don’t expect these strategies to pay off overnight. Networking is about laying the foundation.  The goal is to build a reputation and position yourself and your company in other people’s minds so that when an opportunity presents itself; you are the one recommended.

There are three steps to take advantage of LinkedIn:

Step 1 – Build a detailed and accurate LinkedIn profile

A LinkedIn profile is similar to those on any social network, although with more information and much more open text areas.  You can have one for you and one for your company.  Your profile should include all the things you want your prospects to know about you and your company.  A good profile will have a well thought out summary paragraph letting people know who you are, your experience and perhaps your plans for the future.  After logging in, you are presented with a wizard that guides you through the process of adding everything from your past employment and education to your current skillset and affiliations.  You can add your projects by linking from various websites.

LinkedIn can pull images from these sites

It’s important to take your time when adding to your profile. Think carefully about you wish to be seen by the public. People viewing your profile may pass you over if they find mistakes, or things they don’t like. Also, fill out as much of the profile as possible.  You don’t want to give anyone the impression that you are not serious about your business.

Step 2:  Connect with 2nd and 3rd-degree contacts.

People are connected to you by degree.  People you know are 1st degree connections.  2nd- degree connections are people that your 1st-degree connections know.  Everyone else is 3rd-degree connection.

To add a 1st-degree connection, you first tell LinkedIn how you know the person, (i.e., friend, colleague, etc.) and then they will be sent an invitation to connect.  You won’t be able to send an invitation to someone you don’t know, unless you have his or her email.

The networking goal for any art business is to build relationships with the people that can help you grow your business.  Many of those are 2nd or 3rd degree connections so the best approach is to connect to them via your 1st degree connections.

Here’s how it works. Start connecting to people you know.  Then, reviewing your 2nd-degree contacts, making a list of those people you that you believe may be beneficial.  They could be copyright attorneys, art business consultants, gallery owners, product managers, or your favorite photographer. Ask your connections to make an introduction and start a conversation with them. Also, use LinkedIn’s search engine to find 3rd-degree connections.  These people are much more difficult to meet since you have no connection to them.  For example, if you are a photographer, then maybe you want to talk with a gallery owner, or someone at Canon.  LinkedIn will help you find a route of connections to get to them. Look for the shortest number of people to get to that person.  Then ask your connection to help facilitate the necessary introductions to talk with that person.

You might be thinking, why would any of these people talk to me? Not all will, or some may make do it begrudgingly.  Most people, however, want to help. Since the connection is made by someone they know, the person is much more likely to spend quality time with you as opposed to you making a direct request to talk.   The introduction adds an authenticity to the request.

To make the connections useful, don’t just send a series of emails.  Try to get on the phone with them. You want to make a good impression; a feat better accomplished by having a conversation.  You should make that person feel that you are worth talking to and that you didn’t waste their time. So prepare for any conversation.  Write out points of discussion tailored to their expertise. Read their profiles.  See if they have a social media footprint. Maybe the person has written articles on topics you would like to know more about. Maybe they just won an award or recently returned from a photo shoot in Burma. Your research will help you vary your conversations, rather than asking the same questions to each person. It will also impress them, making it more likely they will continue the conversation or perhaps it will prompt them to introduce you to other industry leaders. Also, always send a thank you note.  (I prefer to send hand-written notes as it shows a bit of extra care.) Finally, write down notes of your conversations. If you are regularly networking, things will get jumbled in your head as to who said what, so you’ll want to review your conversations before the next call.

This strategy may sound like it is a game; like you are using these people.  That is not the case.  It is merely a method to build a network of contacts that your art business may need.  If you are networking purely as a means to get business, then it probably won’t work. But, if you genuinely want to get to know these people and learn from their experiences, the above strategy is a good way to accomplish that task. Meet the right people and the business opportunities will fall into your lap.

Step 3 – Use LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn has moderated Groups, much like those on Reddit; each one based on a different topic, idea, or business.  Most groups require someone to review your profile before accepting you.  Groups you join become part of your profile. Users join Groups that have topics that interest them. For example, LinkedIn has a group called Photography Business Secrets. Here is the Group description.

Most photography professionals consider themselves artists and struggle with the business aspects. Photography Business engages in constructive discussions on how to get clients on the phone, marketing ideas, licensing, industry trends, advertising trends, what’s next, microstock, RF, RM, Free Images, video and footage. We invite members throughout all visual media professions to join this group and engage in active and constructive discussions on how to run the business effectively.

People post articles or pose questions, trying to generate discussions.  Most people are passive users, reading the discussions, but not participating.  Those that do participate tend to gain notoriety within the group, which can lead to other connections. So join the Group and start posting questions or adding links for discussion. Every post should ask a pertinent question or indicate a topic for discussion.  People won’t engage on the topic unless you ask.

As well, if you can, answer some questions.  People always want to talk to experts and will seek them out.  Through interacting with the Groups, you can show people are an expert and hopefully make more connections.


There are certainly many other ways of using LinkedIn to your advantage, but these are very effective methods. Be careful, however, if you are too scattered or don’t have clear goals then these strategies can be a waste of time. If you do use these strategies to build a strong network for your art business, you will be positioned to take advantage of any opportunities that may present themselves.

About the author

Steve Schlackman

As a photographer and Patent Attorney with a background in marketing, Steve has a unique perspective on art and law. Should you have any questions on Intellectual Property contact him at [email protected] His photography can be seen online at or on display at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Latest From Artrepreneur

  • Art Walks Put California on Parade

    For most Californians, walking yields to driving as the main mode of transportation. Driving is such a driving force for the state’s residents that “Saturday Night Live” created a recurring sketch about soap opera characters […]

  • The Future is Bright, Say Art Entrepreneurs

    According to a new report by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) the old adage of the struggling artist may officially be a myth. SNAAP’s special report, “Career Skills and Entrepreneurship Training for […]

  • Artist Profile: Natalia Nakazawa — Art, Work, and Life

    Natalia Nakazawa is a visual artist who works in mixed media to create paintings, tapestries, and collages. Her latest installation was displayed in a window of the iconic art deco Clocktower Building in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. The […]

  • Art Business Conferences for the Art Entrepreneur

    Are you on your way to becoming a thriving art entrepreneur? Check out these upcoming art business conferences to increase your chances for success! The post Art Business Conferences for the Art Entrepreneur appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Eight Artist in Residence Programs to Launch Your Career

    We’ve previously reviewed how important it is to craft a bio and resume that details your art career, and today we’ll discuss one essential element that’s sure to make your career stand out: the Artist in Residence. Artist in […]

  • Write an Artist Bio to Get Noticed

    Most artists are used to expressing themselves in creative ways, but fewer understand the importance of expressing who they are in words. In this article, we'll review the creating an artist bio while offering some useful tips on its content. The […]

  • Balancing a Full-Time Job with Fulfilling Creativity

    Need more time in your day to work on creative endeavors? Here are few ideas that may help. The post Balancing a Full-Time Job with Fulfilling Creativity appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Launching an Art Startup? These Online Resources Can Help.

    Launching your own art startup can be scary. Here are a few tips and online resources that may help. The post Launching an Art Startup? These Online Resources Can Help. appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Expanding Your Art Business Beyond You [Part 2]

    Are you ready to expand your art business? Here's what you need to know about hiring and terminating employees, employee retirement plans and vacation and sick leave. The post Expanding Your Art Business Beyond You [Part 2] appeared first on […]

  • You Don’t Have to be an Artist to Work with Art

    Just because you don’t possess any artistic abilities – or just because you haven’t made it as an artist yet – doesn’t mean you can’t have a creative, art-filled career. There are plenty of “art […]

  • Expanding Your Art Business Beyond You

    Artists successfully running their own art business may be ready to hire an employee. We've covered everything you need to know, from tax requirements to insurance obligations. The post Expanding Your Art Business Beyond You appeared first on […]

  • What Photographers Need to Know About Shooting People [with Cameras]

    In this article, we'll review a key example of publicity and privacy issues, and what you need to know to keep your photography in the clear. The post What Photographers Need to Know About Shooting People [with Cameras] appeared first on […]

  • Getting What You Want: Basic Negotiation Tips For Creatives

    Selling and negotiating can be very intimidating. Fear not! Here are some common sense tips to negotiation that can help you get what you want. The post Getting What You Want: Basic Negotiation Tips For Creatives appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • How to Sell Art [Without Being Annoying]

    Most artists will tell you that the hardest part of their job is trying to sell their artwork to the masses. Sure, they love the creativity and the freedom being an artist provides, but how can they make a living unless they sell their work? While […]

  • Museums Deck the Halls with Holiday Cheer for All

    Check out seasonal exhibits from some of the country’s top art museums. The post Museums Deck the Halls with Holiday Cheer for All appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Why Galleries Should Get Down with Art Fairs [A Useful Guide]

    As we're winding down from celebrating Art Basel Miami Beach, we're thinking about all the different ways galleries and artists can benefit from participating in these international art fairs. The post Why Galleries Should Get Down with Art Fairs [A […]

  • Your All Access Pass to Art Basel

    Dying to tackle Art Basel Miami Beach, but not sure where to start? You won't want to miss these stunning displays of the best of contemporary art. The post Your All Access Pass to Art Basel appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Get Your Networking on at Miami Art Week

    Miami Art Week is the perfect time for artists to network and gather contacts to keep building an art business. Check out five events primed to bring new opportunities. The post Get Your Networking on at Miami Art Week appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • The Garment District: From Buttons and Bows to a Home for Art

    The Garment District Alliance has worked hard to evolve the area from a faded industrial center to a revitalized business district committed to bringing art to the streets. The post The Garment District: From Buttons and Bows to a Home for Art […]

  • United States of the Art: Six Destinations for the Great American Road Trip

    A cross-country road trip provides plenty of opportunities to create art. The post United States of the Art: Six Destinations for the Great American Road Trip appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • How Does a Photography Business Make Money?

    Photographers are uniquely positioned within the art world to earn money through various revenue streams. Here's how you find work. The post How Does a Photography Business Make Money? appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • The Basics of Insurance Part II: Health Insurance for Artists

    In this article, we’ll a type of insurance that you’ll want to think about as you build your art business – health insurance for artists. The post The Basics of Insurance Part II: Health Insurance for Artists appeared first on […]

  • The Emergence of the Creative Entrepreneur

    The term “starving artist” has long been part of our lexicon, signifying the significant struggle artists face bringing their creative work to market. For the lucky few that survive until they have paid their dues, the career can be […]

  • Seth Godin and Marketing for the Art World

    A good marketing strategy can help grow a business if done well. Let Seth Godin show you how to be a modern marketer in his skillshare video series. The post Seth Godin and Marketing for the Art World appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • These Five Companies Put the Art in Startup

    Technology and art are intersecting in more ways than ever, and today’s art startups are revolutionizing the way art is consumed and collected. Entrepreneurs have been intersecting art and technology since the start of the .com boom. Portfolio […]

  • The Art Museum In The Digital Age

    I talked with Steve Konick, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Currier Museum of Art, in Manchester, New Hampshire, to understand why art museums are still relevant The post The Art Museum In The Digital Age appeared first on […]

  • Should I Open a Corporation for My Art Business?

    About 375,000 visual artists claim to be self-employed yet many don't realize that their personal assets can be at risk. Find out how opening a corporation can help protect you. The post Should I Open a Corporation for My Art Business? appeared […]

  • Model Citizens and Protected Images: Work-for-Hire and Right of Publicity

    Last week, we discussed model releases, and an example concerning a model whose image was being used by a company in a more liberal manner than what had originally been agreed upon by the model and the company. You may recall that in this instance, […]

  • Does Copyright and Trademark Law Protect 3D Printing?

    3D printing is a relatively new art form is sweeping the internet and worrying designers and Hollywood executives alike. Along with the advent of 3D printing, a steady stream of piracy and copyright infringement cases have been reported by industry […]

  • Consider this tip before signing an International Art Contract

    Most art galleries participate in art fairs throughout the year. Many of those fairs are international, such as Art Basel Switzerland or the Hong International Art Fair. International art fairs are an excellent way to position your gallery in […]

  • Six Steps to Safer Image Sharing

    Despite the unfortunate reality that image sharing on the Internet can lead to misappropriation of your work, there are some steps that can minimize the risks. The post Six Steps to Safer Image Sharing appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Does Freedom of Speech Protect Taking Photos of People Through Windows?

    Fine art Photographer Arne Svenson spent a year secretly taking photos of the Fosters, a family living across the street from his home. Does the Foster's Right to Privacy outweigh Svenson's Freedom of Expression? The post Does Freedom of Speech […]

  • Four Reasons Artists Should Hire Lawyers

    Think artists can't afford to hire lawyers? Actually, artists can't afford to not have one by their side. Here's four reasons why. The post Four Reasons Artists Should Hire Lawyers appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Death and Taxes: Save Millions Through Careful Estate Planning

    Artists and collectors can minimize estate taxes on artworks by employing a planning strategy and understanding the complexities involved with assessing the work's fair market value. The post Death and Taxes: Save Millions Through Careful Estate […]

  • Can You Spot a Fake? The Trouble with Authenticating Art

    What are the challenges for collectors in authenticating artworks? What are the legal remedies when a purchased artwork is discovered to be a forgery? The post Can You Spot a Fake? The Trouble with Authenticating Art appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]