If you want a successful career as a designer, you have to get networking. Paul Wyatt explains how you can get in with the right people and make meetups and social media work for you.
Carving out a career as a successful creative isn't just about creating great work, you also have to make sure the right people see it. So getting your name and face known is central to building your career.
Some people are terrified by the idea of networking and selling themselves, especially out in the 'real world' and away from the relative comfort of social media.
But it's really nothing to be scared of. Simply adopt a positive attitude, follow the 20 tips I've laid out here and you'll soon be on your way to self-promotion success...
1. Follow the golden rule
The golden rule when networking as a creative is to remember that it's not about schlepping around design events and shoving your folio or business card under everyone's noses. That's just rude.
Instead, it's about extending your creative network by meeting similar-minded people, so you're in a better position to hear on the grapevine of potential work opportunities, happenings or moves in the industry.
2. Show genuine interest
Creative networking is very organic. If you have a genuine interest in design you'll naturally gravitate towards those who share that interest, and with whom you might want to collaborate in the future.
It's a slow burn process: it definitely isn't the creative equivalent of speed dating where you bounce from person to person asking: "What's your going rate?", "Any jobs at your place?", or “Would you like to see my PSDs?”. No, no, no: it's not all 'me, me, me'.
Instead, take an interest in the designers, creative directors or technologists you encounter socially, because you can genuinely learn something about finding work, managing clients or how to deal with annoying creative event speed-daters.
You can learn great things from great people and it will only help you extend your network that bit further.
3. Spot the differences
Seek out people who produce work in a slightly different field to yours. Don't be afraid of this, because you could find there's something you do that they don't. Which means you could both be a great fit for future projects together.
4. Use Twitter
If you're not comfortable with face-to-face networking there is of course the less-imposing internet. Twitter is a great way to find fellow creatives to share banter, work and industry knowledge with. It's a network that can spiral quite quickly, because one contact will know someone who knows somebody else who needs help with a project.
Keep active on Twitter but don’t keep it all about work. Networking is also about getting to know people, so if you're a certified optimist seven days a week, take a day off and grumble about the weather occasionally.
5. Use Instagram
Instagram can be a surprisingly good way to network with other creatives. Good composition and an eye for detail are pretty much the keys to success with any creative endeavour, and Instagram succeeds by showcasing those that do this very well.
Tag your photos with relevant and descriptive hash tags and don't be afraid to use whorish tags such as "#instagramhub" or "#ignation" to make sure your pics are included in popular Instagram lists.
When people like your photos, follow them back and start chatting. It's a great tool for inspiration and for inspiring and connecting with others.