Relationship Networking: The Value in Connections

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is relationship networking? Why is it beneficial to make connections in any line of work?

Relationship networking is when you meet people whom you can benefit from. This can be through supportive connections, collaborations, or promotions.

Read below for more information about relationship networking, according to Austin Kleon in his book Show Your Work!.

Why Relationship Networking Is Important

By sharing your work, you can tap into a network of interested people with whom you can make valuable connections, writes Kleon. This is the art of relationship networking. These connections can serve a few purposes: They can become sources of creative collaboration and sources of support—financial and otherwise.

Collaborative Connections

According to Kleon, inspirations, techniques, and ideas have always spread from person to person in a network of influence. The internet in particular now enables this by allowing people to connect around shared interests and form collaborative relationships. 

Whether you recognize it or not, you’ve probably been influenced by people who do things you admire—writers, musicians, businesspeople, and the like, whose work shapes your tastes and aspirations, writes Kleon. By discussing these influences and by sharing your own ideas with others, you can form friendships with like-minded individuals. Inevitably, many of these people will have creative interests and aspirations like yours—connecting with them will build a network of relationships that can lead to collaboration and new creative projects. Moreover, such relationships can serve as an incubator for all kinds of new creative ideas, says Kleon.   

(Shortform note: Some experts have argued that isolation is better for creative thinking than working with others. Biochemist and science fiction author Isaac Asimov believed this, suggesting that truly novel creative ideas are generated by individuals, not by groups. He felt that the process of generating such original ideas is embarrassing because it requires you to generate many bad ideas before you come up with a good one. Therefore, in a group setting, people will come up with and share fewer ideas—thereby limiting their creative potential. For this reason, he believed idea generation is better done in private than in public.)  

Supportive Connections

According to Kleon, many creative people feel discouraged if they can’t find support for their work in their physical community. Sharing your work online is a solution to this because the online community includes people who can offer you support. Many of those people want to know how art is made because they, too, want to make art. As you put your work out there, you’ll become a source of inspiration and encouragement for them. Kleon claims this dynamic is reciprocal: People you encourage will often happily encourage and support you. They’ll offer helpful feedback, or they’ll even support you financially because they want you to carry on. 

(Shortform note: Many people feel encouraged to pursue their own creative hobbies when they see other people expressing their creativity. Data suggest that many adults have creative interests they feel are unfulfilled. A recent study found that over two-thirds of Americans who participate in a creative hobby wish they could use their creativity more in daily life. Younger adults (ages 18-34) especially felt this way: 74% wished they could be more creative in life than they are. A significant minority of those surveyed (40%) said that seeing others expressing their creativity on social media inspired them to pursue their own hobbies.)

Relationship Networking: The Value in Connections

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Here's what you'll find in our full Show Your Work summary :

  • How to succeed at your creative endeavors
  • How to make money off your creative work
  • Why you should share your creative process

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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