As a graphics designer, how do you find a job in your chosen career or expand your list of clients? You can, of course, take the traditional route of contacting prospective employers and showing them your portfolio. However, if, for some reason, you are not having much success with this approach, there is another way that works surprisingly well—networking.
Here are 10 Networking Tips For Graphic Designers:
- Go to design conferences.
Not all meeting planners have printed paper guides when they are hosting a design conference. Some forward thinking planners use conference apps that allow users to access a continually updated guide. You can access this information at any time rather than waiting for a notice in the mail. You might even be able to organize your own agenda at these conferences with a few taps on your smartphone.
- Forget about “selling yourself.”
You may be slightly intimidated by the idea of having to sell yourself. If you’re introverted, it’s not easy shoving your business card in any open palms you can find and telling people you are the Michelangelo of design. Fortunately, networking is not based on high-pressure sales, which doesn’t work too well, anyway. It’s more about just hanging out with people so you can be among the first to know when someone needs to hire a designer for a project.
- Don’t be self-centered.
As a designer, you’re interested in design. So take an interest in what others are doing in your field. Create rapport through a shared interest. People like people who are like them. Hence, people in the design field like others who are also fascinated by all the creative possibilities available when it comes to producing outstanding work. By showing an interest in other people’s work, they will show an interest in yours. Speak to designers, programmers, technology geeks, directors, and show an interest in what they are doing.
- Collaborate with others on creative projects.
Sometimes you might not get a job or a client, but be invited to be a team member in a creative project. If you have the time and inclination, it’s a good idea to get involved in something that interests you. You never know what might happen in the future. You might get a great referral that will lead to your dream job.
- Network through social media.
You can connect your virtual and physical networking experiences together. For instance, you can share your social media contact information with people that you meet at networking events so that you can develop a professional relationship. You can also share tips and techniques that you learned at an event with your social media fans. Events also offer lots of wonderful photo opportunities. What social networks should you join? Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are some of the most popular and useful.
- Meet with creative people.
You don’t necessarily have to hang out with other designers; you can also extend your influence by hanging out with other creative people. One of the best places to find them is on Meetup.com.
- Create a budget for socializing with others.
Often the best events happen after an event, when new friends go out to eat or drink. By budgeting for these events, you will always have enough funds to go to restaurants and bars with your fellow event attendees.
- Develop a platform to share your expertise.
Think about creating a YouTube channel to talk about design. You can offer your viewers design tips, share your experiences, and even have over-the-shoulder videos demonstrating a technique or how to use particular software. This platform will not only help you develop a relationship with people online, but it will also help your offline networking, too. Instead of just being someone looking for a job or seeking new clients, you are showing future employers that you are experienced enough to have your own tutorials on a popular video sharing site.
- Become a lifelong learner of your craft.
Although you may already be excellent, you can always get even better. This attitude of being a student of your craft will make a positive impression on people when having a casual conversation at an event. You might even run into people who are legendary in your field and can ask them for tips on how to get better. For instance, they might be able to recommend excellent courses, books, DVDs, or techniques that worked for them.
- Become an excellent conversationalist.
What is the difference between brilliant conversationalists and mere mortals? They just have a few more tricks up their sleeves. First, they take an interest in other people, asking lots of open-ended questions and maintaining steady eye contact. Second, they are active listeners, affirming what they heard and clarifying things they did not understand. Third, they are eager to share what they know to help others out—whether it is technical information or an introduction.
Design Your Own Luck
Networking is designing your own lucky breaks in your career. The probability of your finding the right work increases the more people you meet. It increases even more when you know where to meet the right people. And it increases exponentially when you know how to network.