Start Developing a Professional Network Now

One of the most important ways to make yourself known and create connections is through a professional network. Whether you’re just starting in your program at IPR or you are an experienced graduate, chances are you have taken a class or two that have helped you understand the importance of marketing within the creative arts.

Man Hand Writing Stand Out From The Crowd With Black Marker On VWhen it comes to a personal marketing strategy, what do you do to set yourself apart from everyone else—and more importantly, how are you selling yourself? Network building through face-to-face interactions the key to a successful career in the digital media. Not sure how to start creating your network? We’ve got a few tips to help you as you create connections in this industry.

Always be Ready to Connect

Remember that every outing is an opportunity to expand your network. Going to a release show this weekend? Or working a sound gig for a VIP rooftop party? Whether the faces are new or familiar, chances are the event that you’re attending will be ripe for networking. On a gig, you may encounter new connections, or interact with acquaintances that you may not have gotten face time with earlier.

If striking up a conversation doesn’t come easily for you, don’t fret—remember that you are both there for similar reasons. Don’t feel obligated to keep an hour long conversation or throw your entire resume at them. Take a deep breath, let the conversation flow naturally, and show genuine interest in your interaction. Get a feel for the room and let nature take its course. You may discover that the person standing next to you has much more in common with you than you previously thought. It could be that a mutual friend is looking for someone in your field to help produce their album. That guy in the corner, he may be in charge of crewing up for a video shoot.

But don’t be too eager to sell yourself. You’ll meet a lot of different personalities in just about any professional setting, remember your social graces when it comes to interacting with them. Don’t barge in on personal chats or try to dominate a group conversation – and remember that sometimes the best thing you can do is listen. Even if you are working desperately to find clients, the best salespeople are ones that seem like they aren’t selling anything at all. You don’t have to come out with guns blazing, just have fun and let the conversation steer itself.

Solidify the Contact

Woman And Man Transferring Files From Smart Mobile Phone To AnotDon’t forget to exchange contact information. This may go without saying, but you can’t keep in contact with a person if you don’t exchange your contact information. It’s a good practice to bring a small stack of business cards with you in your wallet or purse and to hand them out as needed. You may not need to jump the gun and add each other on your personal Facebook accounts right away, but establishing a digital connection will be incredibly beneficial to seeing if your connection will lead to opportunities down the road.

Follow up is key to building and maintaining a network. Say you’ve just had a great first date – you’re not going to completely ignore them after your evening out, are you? Networking works the same way. Depending on how well you know each other, set an appropriate timeline for following up. Have they introduced you to a new client? Drop them an e-mail or physical letter showing your appreciation for the connection, and how much you value the relationship. Know you’re going to be attending to an event that interests them? Let them know ahead of time and repay the gift of networking. As their network expands, yours may as well!

Constantly Expand Your Network

It never hurts to ask for an introduction. No doubt that you’ve made some amazing connections with your instructors and fellow students on campus, but why let those fires die out? This is when following up is crucial. If you’ve had the opportunity to work with clients that you’ve enjoyed, or connections that seem up your alley there is no harm in asking for a professional introduction from your peers or mentors. Many will be thrilled to hear of your interest, and be happy to link you to their connections. If you see that your connections are working on a project or are working with a specific organization that you’ve been dying to be a part of, seize the opportunity and ask if it’s possible to tag along or if you can be introduced in person, or even over LinkedIn. If you don’t try, you may never know what business relationships could develop.

Although we cannot guarantee employment, you will find support from the moment you enroll. Learn more about career services at IPR here.

Written by Krissy Jackson, career services coordinator at IPR Creative College