Networking is key to standing out in your field - Museums Association

Networking is key to standing out in your field

Getting to know your peers across the sector is crucial for career success
Otegha Uwagba
With short-term contracts a staple for those working in the arts, and more specifically within the museum sector, now more than ever it pays to think about how you can you stand out. Networking with others in your field and ensuring you have a strong personal brand are key to boosting your professional profile, regardless of what discipline you work in.

Your personal brand encompasses everything from your online presence to your reputation among your colleagues and in the wider sector. Essentially, it is a measure of how you are perceived by others, and having a distinctive personal brand can be the difference between snagging that new job or promotion, and missing out.

So how do you go about creating one? The most accessible – and effective – tool at your disposal is almost certainly social media. A solid online presence is key to creating a strong brand, and your social media profiles are likely to be the first thing potential employers will find when they Google you. So make sure what they find paints you in a positive light.

Demonstrate that you are engaged with industry happenings by sharing relevant articles and think pieces, as well as your opinions on them.

Getting to know your peers across the sector is also crucial for career success, which is why networking with museum professionals from institutions – and disciplines – other than your own is so important. In doing so, you will get a sense of how other institutions operate, and potentially pick up fresh ideas you can apply within your own.

In addition, word of mouth and personal references are the most effective ways of getting new jobs and commissions – expanding your professional network is crucial to career progression.

So sign up for industry groups and networks or, better still, take matters into your own hands. Why not organise a monthly meet-up of museum professionals in an informal setting, such as a coffee shop or bar, to trade ideas and share contacts? If you’re just starting out (and even if you’ve got a few years of experience under your belt), don’t be afraid to reach out to people whose careers you would like to emulate. Most people are only too happy to share their career insights over a cup of coffee, if asked nicely.

To progress in your career, it’s important to move beyond just fulfilling your day-to-day responsibilities, and to dedicate a little time to crafting a solid personal brand and networking with industry peers. These are crucial investments in your career.

Otegha Uwagba is a freelance writer and brand consultant, and the founder of Women Who – a platform for creative working women

Otegha Uwagba is speaking at Moving on Up, a Museums Association conference for early-career museum, gallery and heritage professionals. The event is being held at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh on 28 February.

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