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 *


We built Orangenius to help creators succeed. Our comprehensive platform takes the guesswork out of the business of art, so you can focus on creating. Click to see how Orangenius is revolutionizing the creative economy.


The Latest From Artrepreneur

  • How to Earn Your Living as a Travel Photographer

    The prospect of traveling the world while getting paid to work may seem farfetched, but these two photographers have the ticket to landing freelance creative work across the globe. Here, Andy Donohoe and Michaela Trimble share their advice for […]

  • A Recruiter’s Advice for your Video or Motion Design Reel

    Creative Circle recruiter Brooks Rowlett sifts through hundreds of motion design reels and video editor portfolios each week. Here, he shares his best advice for motion designers and video editors looking to land their next big gig. The post A […]

  • From Tattoo Artist to Brand Empire: The Rise of the Ink Mogul

    The savvy tattoo artist uses brand recognition to launch a multimedia business. These four artists have leveraged their underground celebrity status to build a brand empire, complete with product lines, book deals, and TV contracts. The post From […]

  • Exploring the Intersection of Art and Technology

    The advent of technology is re-shaping the practice of art. These educational institutions, artists, and startups are exploring art and technology's convergence in today's increasingly digital world. The post Exploring the Intersection of Art and […]

  • Work with an Artist Mentor to Get Your Career on Track

    Many of the world's most recognized artists sought inspiration and guidance from their peers. Gain insight into your practice and learn about the business of art by finding an artist mentor whose career aligns with your own vision for success. The […]

  • Why Artists Need to Make Copyright Registration a Priority

    Sharing, posting, and distributing your work online is easier than ever - but often times, visual artists find themselves dealing with online piracy issues as a result of that practice. Initiating a copyright registration routine can curb the […]

  • How Artists on Social Media Can Grow Their Following

    By sticking to the tenets of the social media pyramid, artists on social media can develop an engaged audience. The post How Artists on Social Media Can Grow Their Following appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • How [and Where] to Submit an Art Fair Application

    Submitting an art fair application doesn't have to be an arduous process. We break down which fairs are currently accepting submissions, and how you should apply. The post How [and Where] to Submit an Art Fair Application appeared first on […]

  • The Paperwork Behind Your Art Business [Part I]

    In this ongoing series, we'll review the various documents needed to get your art business up and running. First up: Crafting your artist proposal. The post The Paperwork Behind Your Art Business [Part I] appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • A Creative Career Coach Outlines a Strategy for the Working Artist

    Marc Zegans coaches artists planning the next move in their art careers. Here, he shares his proven approach for developing your practice as a working artist. The post A Creative Career Coach Outlines a Strategy for the Working Artist appeared first […]

  • How One Artist Uses Instagram to Land Consistent Illustration Gigs

    Illustrator Maria Luque's secret to landing a steady stream of illustration gigs? Just be consistent and post regularly on Instagram. The post How One Artist Uses Instagram to Land Consistent Illustration Gigs appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Artists Who Failed – And Found Success Anyway

    Some of the world's most successful artists weren't always so revered. Meet five artists who failed to develop their art careers during their lifetime. The post Artists Who Failed – And Found Success Anyway appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • How Do Online Content Moderation Policies Treat Nudity in Art?

    As Facebook's online content moderation policies come under fire, we review creative platform Orangenius' policy on nudity in art. The post How Do Online Content Moderation Policies Treat Nudity in Art? appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • Self Employed? Five Ways To Get Into the Creative Habit

    Self-employed artists don't always leave room for inspiration. Boost productivity and get into the creative habit with these proven strategies. The post Self Employed? Five Ways To Get Into the Creative Habit appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • A Creative in a Corporate Organization: Related Group’s Art Department

    In this ongoing series, we explore the creative roles available in the most unlikely of corporations. Our first installment talks to Patricia Hanna, the Art Director of Related Group. The post A Creative in a Corporate Organization: Related […]