Networking in the Field of Graphic Design

Whether you are fresh out of design school, just starting college, or about to embark on your freelance design career, networking is crucial in the field of graphic design. Here are some tips and ideas to make a good name for yourself.

Why Network?

The graphic design field is very competitive. In order to succeed, you need to set yourself apart from other designers. This can be difficult when you have just graduated from design school and only have a degree to rely on for experience. If you're starting to freelance, you will need a way to build a client base. Give yourself an edge by being social. The old adage is true: the more people who know you, the better. Networking is the key to finding new projects and clients, learning tips from other designers, and promoting yourself and your business.

Brand Yourself

Think of yourself as a brand. Publicize yourself by talking to as many as possible and mentioning your career in graphic design. Think about how you would want your business - yourself - to be viewed and give off that vibe. Be friendly and courteous, never pushy or rude. Act professionally and create a positive image for yourself.

Basics of Networking

Networking is simple - talk to everyone you know - and those you don't know very well - and let them know of your career choice. Create your own business cards showcasing your graphic design abilities and hand them out to as many people as possible. It can he helpful to ask that person for his or her business card first - then you'll have an opportunity to give your card out. Attend local professional groups and get to know other entrepreneurs or job-seekers. Even if the group isn't related to graphic design, you may meet other professionals in need of quality graphic design. Create an address book of professional contacts and send them an occasional email or a postcard. If you're in college, develop a positive rapport with your professors and attend as many design seminars as possible.

Creative Ways to Network

Social networking sites, like Myspace and Facebook, are traditionally used to make new friends and track old contacts but these sites are also a useful marketing tool. Use them to your benefit. Create a profile that is personal yet professional - give away a few of your hobbies but don't post any pictures that capture you in a negative light - and keep it up to date. Post samples of your design work, contact information for your business, and list any accomplishments. You can also get the word out by speaking at a local school, keeping in touch with fellow students or alumni, and giving our freebies - flying discs, mouse pads, buttons - with your contact information.

Getting to Know Other Graphic Designers

Besides for meeting prospective clients, networking can be used to meet fellow graphic designers and to maintain a sense of camaraderie. Yes, these designers are your competition, but don't treat them with hostility. You can learn many tips, job leads, and gain worthwhile advice by joining a graphic design community, whether it's online or in your community. There now are many social networking sites built exclusively for graphic designers. Never underestimate the opportunity to vent, bounce ideas, and chat with other people knowledgeable in your area of expertise.

Now is not the time to be shy. Your networking efforts will introduce you to people who can help your career grow. If you return favors, continue to meet people, and keep in contact with people you've already met, you're sure to see your business bloom.

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            The Huffington Post has recently issued a contest, asking graphic designers to create a new logo. However, the winning individual will not be paid for their design - they will only be recognized by name, rather than compensation, according to AdWeek.

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