Network Like A Pro! Essential Tips for Artists, Designers, and Developers

Artists, designers, and developers often pour all of their energy into their creative work – leaving little room for anything else. And while a stellar portfolio and industry experience are surely valuable; those aren’t the only ways to boost one’s personal brand, land potential clients, or expand an art business. So, if you’re looking to get more from your development, design, or art career; keep reading! This post is for you! Below, we will outline the importance of networking, steps you can take to prepare for events, and what you should focus your attention on!

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The Importance of Networking for Art, Design, and Development Professionals

two creative professionals talking in front of a colorful mural and wearing business attire

For visual artists, designers, and web developers; getting out of the studio (or home office) to go network can be a bit of a daunting task. After all, networking can bring out the shy or awkward aspects of one’s personality, so one may prefer to work in the studio alone instead of entertaining networking opportunities. However, building connections and tapping into the creative community online and in person is important. But, exactly why is it important? Well, we’ve done some research and come across the following reasons why networking can be significant to those pursuing a creative career:

  • Networking efforts can lead to more freelance opportunities.
  • A networking event may foster relationships between creative people or others whose work intersects with the design, development, or art community.
  • Seeking critiques and networking with other professionals can help those who wish to receive feedback on their work or form creative clusters with fellow artists.
  • Expanding one’s creative network can help one find new friends with similar interests or connect with key players in their respective industries.

How to Prepare for Networking Events

Networking events may bring up feelings of nervousness but there are steps you can take to prepare to put your best foot forth. Are unsure of where to start? That’s okay! Below we’ll look at 5 things you can do to prepare for industry conferences, trade shows, or another upcoming networking opportunity.

1. Curate Your Digital Portfolio and Social Media

Whether you’re attending a networking event with the hopes of attracting new clients or connecting with other creatives; it’s important to have an online portfolio to refer back to. After all, for most artists, designers, and developers; it is much easier to show what one does versus explaining it. So, make sure your portfolio is up to date!

And it doesn’t hurt to review your social media as well. After meeting you at an in-person or virtual conference, your new connections may search for you online. If they do, you’ll want them to find a sleek website with relevant work and social media profiles that reflect who you are in real life while maintaining an air of professionalism.

2. Invest in Physical or Digital Business Cards

It’s 2022 and you may think a business card is no longer a relevant form of communication. However, that is up for debate. Business cards can still be a suitable form of networking or building relationships with your client base.

When you attend events, in person, having a business card with your personal branding can leave a positive impression on those you meet. For virtual interactions, or if you’d prefer a more eco-friendly option; electronic business cards or QR codes can be shared with new clients and connections.

3. Research Keynote Speakers or Presenters Before You Attend Events

A little research can go a long way. So, be sure to look up the key players at any networking event. Did the invitation mention a presentation by a professional in your field? Industry conferences often have keynote speakers or presenters who are there to share their insight with the attendees – which is why one of the simplest networking tips you can take to maximize your time at an event is to research folks in advance. Doing so will help you gain a better understanding of the information that will be presented and can help generate ideas on how to leverage the event for your personal or professional growth.

4. Refine Your Elevator Speech

What type of creative work do you engage in? What makes your art, design, or development work/ideas/innovations special? Take a moment to think about it then refine your elevator speech. An elevator speech or pitch is a summary of what you bring to the table and what makes you excited! So spend time refining this and condensing your speech to 30 sec or a 1min at most. 

Remember, no one can define you better than yourself. So spend time practicing ways to engage in self-promotion in a succinct way – it can come in handy at your next in-person or online networking event. 

5. Examine and Adjust Your Physical Presentation As Needed

It’s no secret that first impressions shape someone’s image of you – so it’s important to put your best foot forward when it comes to your physical appearance. 

While we advise that you always show up as yourself, it is important to wear appropriate attire for whatever networking event one’s attending. As a general rule of thumb, stick to business casual attire for industry conferences, and presentations. For more upscale networking occasions, like cocktail parties or other soirees, jazz it up a bit. 

Keep reading for more tips…

Post College Networking Tips for Creatives

hands typing on a laptop with red painted fingernails and another laptop on the surface nearby

Let’s be honest, expanding one’s creative network is hard work! And if you’re a recent grad or you’re just breaking into your industry; it can seem a bit overwhelming to reach out to others. But don’t fret! Authentic Jobs is here to help! 

Below we’ve included tips for those who want to learn how to network successfully, make new connections, and share their ideas with a wider audience. 

Keep scrolling!

Update Your Email Address & Social Media Handles As Needed

Do you have a professional email address? If you don’t, it might be time to swap out your college account or old Gmail that’s not so appropriate. 

After all, when it comes to business networking, you want to exude the utmost professionalism – this extends to social networking sites where you’ll be connecting with other creative professionals as well. So, update your social media handles as needed or consider making a separate page for your personal life. It’s your choice!  Use your discernment, keep in mind what your networking goals are and the name that will display when you comment on other people’s posts. 

Start with Your Peers, Professors, & Current Social Network 

When you want to get your new ideas out there, build connections, or gain more exposure in your industry; it might be a good idea to sift through your social networks to see who you already know. And while you’re at it, it doesn’t hurt to check what events your alma mater may be hosting or promoting through their own social networks. 

When you leave university or art/design college, it can be hard to stay connected to other artists, designers, and developers. However, your alma mater is an excellent resource to find rekindle a friendship, find a new connection, rekindle an old one, or seek mentorship. 

Network with Non-Creatives & Others in the Business World

At a networking event, it can be easy for the creatives to stick together – this is especially common at in-person events. And it makes sense. It’s always easier to make friends with folks with whom you have a lot in common. However, it can be extremely helpful to branch out a bit – especially when you attend events that include other business professionals with varied backgrounds. 

When you build connections with folks who do not work in your industry, you have the chance to attract potential clients, share your online portfolio with a new audience, or start a conversation with a person who can help you find new creative job opportunities

Attend online or in-person critique groups

If you want to connect with other artists, designers, and developers, one idea is to attend a critique group or two. These can take place online or in-person – both offer the opportunity to share your online portfolio with other creative people who have experience with the type of work that you do. 

In addition to a healthy dose of constructive criticism, critique groups lead to friendships with others who share a sincere interest in what you experience as a creative professional navigating the workforce. 


two creative professionals sit outdoors and work on laptops side by side

Networking doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It can be a way to get one’s own work out there, land job positions, or make friends in a new city. 

So, here are a few networking tips for the road:

  • Networking opportunities can be spontaneous, so have your business cards handy, and don’t be afraid to share them with interesting people you meet. 
  • Protect your reputation by being honest and reliable. When you have a conversation that leads to a collaborative project or plans to meet up in real life, it is important to stay on top of that. After all, your reputation is everything. So, try to follow through on promises or give advance notice when you can’t be in attendance. 
  • Be confident, professional, and patient when you network. The creative/business world is a difficult terrain to navigate. Be patient as you build connections and keep a professional appearance when you talk to others.