know your resources: part 5
Networking. Ugh, it’s the worst. While I love meeting new people I definitely lack that ‘schmooze gene’ that so many have and use well. I also lack the ‘closer gene,’ the one where you suavely hand over your business card and say, ‘Call me sometime about that new project.’ As a graphic designer, especially a freelance one, it’s very important to get yourself out there to maintain not only your income but also your identity.
While nothing can replace face-to-face contact and communication with clients and the graphic design community, there is something to be said in this day and age about a strong online presence. Don’t be that person who clogs up everyone’s Facebook and Twitter feed with mundane updates, but use social media mindfully. Harness the power of the Internet to develop a portfolio site or blog that reflects you, your taste and your work. Even if you’re a print designer, I firmly believe that every graphic design creative should have a working knowledge of basic HTML (see an interesting article by Jessica Hische here). Having this online version of yourself is a great lead when meeting people virtually and in person. It gives them a point of reference and, hopefully, a great lasting impression.
Outside of cyberspace, it’s important to find your local design community. There are large associations like the AIGA that have chapters through the country and there are small local artisan groups who are always looking for new members. Once you joined you’ll be surprised at how everyone really does know everyone. For that reason, it is important to maintain meaningful relationships with these people. They could lead to new clients and new opportunities that you never expected. At faucethead creative last year we participated in the Art House Co-Op Sketchbook Project and were introduced to four Chicago area artists. The experience helped us find our local community and gave us a chance to unleash some creative energy. A win/win situation for all.
One last item that is key to putting yourself out there is to be true to your voice. When you comment on blogs, send a Tweet, reply to an email or work on a campaign it’s important to see the greater picture. The short blurb online, the extensive logo project, are all reflections of you and your work. There will be bad weeks, there will be worse clients, but at the end of the day you’re doing something you love and for that you’re very fortunate. So get out there and find people who are equally as passionate about what they’re doing. You won’t regret it.
By: Elissa Braun