Networking: Fun Fun For Everyone

29 04 2009

So you’re headed out the door almost finished with your degree and the mentality you have is ‘I’m on top of the world, now what?’ Yeah, believe me, I’m almost at the point and I kinda ask myself ‘What am I going to do?’

Though don’t fear, I mean you have made friends in design school, right?

‘Wait, how does DEF know I haven’t made friends?, I mean I have acquaintances, but I’m an art kid, I can get through this by myself, I don’t need no stinkin’ friends, specially the ones who are going to steal concepts from me!’

Wrong, well I mean you probably could if you were really that headstrong, but unlike the rest of us (or the ones who pretty much got kicked off their high horse -myself included) you gotta have friends. I also mean you have to have friends that know the business oriented part of you as well.

I know for many designers the word ‘business’ and the word ‘friends’ don’t sound like a mix we’d really like to compromise, but I’m sure the friends you made in design school are in fact going to be your ‘business friends’ later.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a design student – yes that’s right student. I also work as a freelancer on the side while in design school, meaning I’m surrounded by designers every day I’m at school. I know, not a real new concept. Though I know there are some people who blast through design school not making an effort to get to know someone who has ‘really sick’ design skills and/or someone who doesn’t have the skills, but has the potential to be better. There’s always that crazy paranoia that someone else is going to steal your concepts and that you don’t make friends in design school you make enemies and they’re all out to get you. Wrong. This is so wrong.

You are there to learn and you’re there to share. Unless you’re ‘The shit’ designer in school and has everything going for them and has their own business… welcome to reality kids you better start making friends with the kid who’s socially awkward, but knows a hell of a lot in illustrator. Mind you, our designer mentality (somewhat) likes to say “I’m large and in charge and I don’t need anyone’s help” when really you’re thinking “God if I only remembered how to do this” or “if someone could help me”

I think we all share the common ground of feeling good from helping people. I know I do. I like sharing for the better part of me, I especially like sharing and elaborating on stuff I know a lot about. So if you wish for me to tell you about your astrological sign (yes, even if you don’t believe in it or anything I still think it’s fun) or if you need help getting through an interface, I kind of find that more important than the ‘I’m large and in charge’ ego.

So I’m sure you’re asking ‘But DEF how do I do that? I’ve never done that’ first off I’d like to say ‘How many people do you know?’ – give it some thought. All right, out of those people who many people do they know that can help you? Am I starting to get the ball rolling?

Networking in the most part is about who you know, if you don’t know anyone, I guess you should start getting to know some people. Mind you if you’re a douche, people aren’t going to want to get to know you, so don’t be one and there will be no problem with that.

1. You should share information.
Great things when it comes to this aspect of networking is possibly twitter. I’m not going to lie, it helps a lot and you can get feedback from people in your field who have been there done that, will tell you like it is. This is no sugar coated pat on the head, you want a serious critique, they’ll give you one. You need help on trying to write a contract? They’ll direct you in the way to get there. They’re there to help you and to socialize. Saying hello to someone new usually makes that person feel pretty good and more willing to help. But being insincere and a jerk, well doesn’t really get you anything.

2. Don’t know something? Don’t be afraid to ask.
I’m still working on this aspect of being a designer, and I know many of us don’t like asking for help. The truth of the matter is, if you don’t ask then you won’t know, and if you don’t know then where does that leave you? Sometimes often frustrated. – Sure google can help you, but that’s spending endless hours on stuff to be learned (mind you learning is always a good thing), but why not ask someone who has the experience? Question and be questioned.

3. Be taught and teach others.
In a sense we’re all somewhat teachers, and we pretty much didn’t have to get a masters in education to do it either. That’s right, all of us harbor knowledge. There are things we know that others don’t, we are mentors and peers and being able to teach someone something also feels rewarding in the end. Also being taught something is a reward, it’s all a win win situation.

But most of all Don’t be someone who knows it all and puts others down I know you’re probably saying ‘That’s a no-brainer DEF’ , but to be truthfully honest some people have really big heads. I’ve lost a lot of friends because of that trait, and even if they were good people to network with, dealing with that doesn’t help. So don’t get too much of a big head or someone might just pop you.

– DEF

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