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Valuing Your Peers and Building Your Network

Group of people hovering around a table with a black cloth looking at a piece of paper

How do you harness your peers and network to support each other’s careers?

From the moment Amelia welcomed everyone, momentum steadily grew and the room had swelled with conversation, laughter and the click-click of phones being unlocked to share Instagram @s. In this session we explored how to effectively utilise your peers and network to bolster your career. We delved into the significance of establishing strong connections and introduced the value of peer review. We were fortunate to have a distinguished panel of guests from the arts sector who are actively involved in cultivating support networks.

The session was hosted by radio presenter and spoken word artist Amelia Poamz. Special guests also included culture consultant and founder of DON'T SLEEP ON US, Neelam Keshwala; visual artist, producer and founder of FerArts, Amanda Fernandez; arts practitioner and founder of Artizine UK, Ioana Simion and Phoebe Wagner, a poet and community artist and founder of the art collective Crep Project. 

This session was on Thursday 10 November 2022.

‘I can't stress how much networking was paramount in the making of my own career.‘
Amanda Fernandez

Session Recap

Neelam and Amanda drove a vigorous conversation about the power of networking, the diversity of ideas that it breeds, and its ability to keep you fresh, exacerbate blindspots and open doors in your career. With every word that left their mouths, the energy radiating from the “networking gurus” grew. 

Amanda and Neelam noted that growing thriving networks requires an element of opening up. Naturally, this leads to an exploration of vulnerability — a topic that has been raised consistently at Creative Careers. They agree that creative careers are inherently entwined with personality and principle, which is caveated by some advice: “be personal but bring what’s relevant.”

People were building their networks and many probably did so without even thinking about it as networking. They were just connecting with like-minded peers, building the foundations of friendships and cracking open the door to opportunity.

The latter part of the session comprised of peer-led discussions, Ioana and Phoebe shared their upcoming creative projects which provided attendees with the opportunity to engage in constructive conversations about their projects and ideas. Ioana , introduced her zine-making workshop under Artizine, inspiring attendees to explore the world of "radical imagination" through zine creation. The audience, a mix of seasoned zine-makers and novices, eagerly absorbed Ioana's creative vision and embraced the sense of community and skill-building she aimed to foster. Meanwhile, Phoebe showcased her Crep Project concept, Limpieza en Progreso, shedding light on the stories of cleaners through the marks on their shoes. Her infectious enthusiasm and punchy tone resonated with the audience, leaving them with a heightened awareness of the people and experiences often unseen in daily life. Phoebe and Ioana’s vulnerability and requests for feedback dissolved any barriers that may have remained. And the breakout session got people engaging with each other, really living the networking experience and feeling its almost tangible power sparking throughout the room.  

‘Surround yourself with people that would say your name in a room full of opportunities.‘
Neelam Keshwala

Creative Careers Self-Help Guide

Top tips on networking

  • The more networking events you attend, the more you will recognise people and the easier it will become “It doesn’t feel like it at the moment. But London is small.”
  • Send a follow-up DM or email if you don’t do it in the room. 
  • Stay connected: message congrats, say you respect something that they’ve achieved, keep their name somewhere etc.
  • Think about networking as friendship-making it can be transformational rather than just transactional.

Sharing creative projects

  • Ask yourself - How do you want people to feel when they’re engaging in your creative concept? What’s the emotion you’re trying to evoke?
  • Testament to the idea that you get more joy from giving a gift than you do from receiving one.
‘On feedback: “Think, ‘what would I like to hear back?”‘
Amanda Fernandez
Four people having a discussion around a table

Creative Careers: Valuing Your Peers and Building Your Network

Participants in breakout discussion.

Photography by Matthew Kaltenborn.

Lady in yellow jumper looking up and taking picture on phone

Creative Careers: Valuing Your Peers and Building Your Network

Host Amelia Poamz.

Photography by Matthew Kaltenborn.

Workshop facilitator at a table speaking to three participants

Creative Careers: Valuing Your Peers and Building Your Network

Ioana leading peer-discussion with participants. 

Photography by Matthew Kaltenborn.

Two people embracing each other in the middle of the room

Creative Careers: Valuing Your Peers and Building Your Network

Two participants embracing each other.

Photography by Matthew Kaltenborn.

Over the shoulder view of a pamphlet on a person's lap

Creative Careers: Valuing Your Peers and Building Your Network

Participant looking over the Crep Project booklet.

Photography by Matthew Kaltenborn.

‘Communicate what you like doing, what you’re good at and share opportunities.‘
Amelia Poamz