Networking Tips for New Graphic Designers: Career Boost
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Why networking matters for graphic designers
  2. How to start networking
  3. Tips for effective networking
  4. Networking events worth attending
  5. How to make the most of networking events
  6. Online networking for graphic designers
  7. How to follow up after networking
  8. How networking boosts your career

When you're just starting out in the world of graphic design, making connections in the industry can feel a bit like learning a new software — it's a bit challenging at first, but with some practice and the right tips, you'll soon become a pro. This blog post is here to give you just that — a toolbox of tips for networking in graphic design as an entry-level employee. So, let's dive right in and discover why networking is your secret weapon for boosting your career in graphic design.

Why networking matters for graphic designers

Networking plays a huge role in the graphic design industry, and here's why:

  • Job Opportunities: Many jobs in graphic design are not advertised publicly. Instead, they are shared within networks. By creating and maintaining strong relationships in the industry, you increase your chances of hearing about these opportunities.
  • Learning from Others: Networking allows you to learn from other designers. You can pick up new tips and tricks, learn about different design approaches, and even get advice on how to handle client relations or pricing your work.
  • Building a Reputation: When you network, you're not just making connections — you're also building your reputation. The more people who know you and your work, the more likely your name will come up when someone is looking for a graphic designer.

So, networking is not just about meeting people. It's about finding new opportunities, learning, and growing as a graphic designer. Simply put, networking is a key ingredient in the recipe for a successful career in graphic design.

How to start networking

So, you're ready to start networking. Great! But where do you start? Just like using a graphics tablet for the first time, it might feel a bit awkward in the beginning, but don't worry. Here are some practical tips for networking in graphic design as an entry-level employee.

  • Set Clear Goals: Before you start networking, make sure you know why you're doing it. Are you looking for job opportunities? Want to learn from experienced designers? Or maybe you want to find a mentor? Knowing your goals will help you decide where to network and who to network with.
  • Research: Find out about the people, companies, and events in the graphic design industry. This will make you feel more prepared and confident when you start making connections.
  • Start Where You Are: You don't need to attend a major industry event to start networking. You can start with the people you already know — classmates, teachers, colleagues, even family and friends. They might know someone who knows someone, and that's how networking starts.
  • Prepare Your Elevator Pitch: An elevator pitch is a short description of who you are, what you do, and what you're looking for. It's called an elevator pitch because it should be short enough to present during a brief elevator ride. You never know when you'll meet a potential connection, so it's good to be prepared.

Remember, networking is not about selling yourself or begging for opportunities. It's about making genuine connections with people. So, be yourself, be interested in others, and don't forget to have fun while doing it!

Tips for effective networking

Now that we've covered how to start networking, let's dive into the nitty-gritty details on how to be effective at it. Just like layering graphics, networking isn't about slapping things together and hoping for the best. It requires thought, strategy, and a dash of creativity. Here are some key tips for networking in graphic design as an entry-level employee:

  • Be Genuine: People can tell if you're genuinely interested in them or just trying to get something. So, be authentic. Show interest in their work, ask thoughtful questions, and listen to their answers. And remember, it's not all about you. Networking is a two-way street.
  • Be Respectful: Treat everyone you meet with respect, regardless of their position or status. You never know who might be able to help you in the future, or whom you might be able to help. Plus, it's just a nice way to be.
  • Be Visible: Don't hide in the corner at networking events or stay silent in online forums. Participate in discussions, share your ideas, and show your work. It's not showing off — it's letting people know what you can do and what you're interested in.
  • Be Patient: Networking is not a quick fix. It's a long-term strategy. You might not see immediate results, but over time, you'll build a network of connections that can help you throughout your career.

Effective networking is like good design — it's about making connections, creating an impact, and leaving a lasting impression. So, keep these tips in mind, and you'll be well on your way to becoming a networking pro!

Networking events worth attending

As a fresh face in the graphic design industry, you might be wondering where the best places to network are. Sure, you can strike up a conversation at your local coffee shop, but are there specific events designed for networking in the graphic design field? Absolutely! Here are a few key gatherings where you can meet like-minded professionals, learn industry insights, and get your name out there:

  • Design Conferences: Conferences are a goldmine for making connections. Events like the HOW Design Live, Adobe MAX, and AIGA Design Conference bring together thousands of creatives from around the world. You can learn from industry leaders, participate in workshops, and mingle with other designers.
  • Local Meetups: Don't underestimate the power of local events. Meetups, whether they're casual coffee chats or formal gatherings, can connect you with designers in your area. You might even stumble upon a mentor or your next big opportunity!
  • Online Webinars and Forums: With the digital age, networking isn't limited to physical events. Webinars, online workshops, and forums offer great platforms to meet other designers, share your work, and get feedback. Sites like Behance or Dribbble host regular community events that can prove beneficial for networking.
  • Portfolio Reviews: These events are not just for getting feedback on your work. They're also excellent opportunities to meet other designers, industry professionals, and potential employers. Plus, they can provide you with valuable insights to improve your projects.

Remember, the goal isn't to attend every single event out there. It's about finding the ones that align with your interests and career goals. So, start marking your calendar and get ready to network!

How to make the most of networking events

So, you've found some promising networking events to attend. But how do you make sure you're not just another face in the crowd? Here are some tips for networking in graphic design that will help you stand out and make a lasting impression.

  • Prepare in Advance: Before an event, research about the attendees, speakers, or companies that will be there. Knowing a bit about them can help you initiate conversations and ask relevant questions.
  • Bring Your Portfolio: A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Having your portfolio handy—either in print or digital format—can help you showcase your skills and creativity on the spot.
  • Don't Be Shy: Yes, initiating a conversation can be daunting. But remember, everyone is there to network. Start with a smile, introduce yourself, and ask about their work. You'd be surprised how far a friendly approach can get you.
  • Listen More, Talk Less: While it's important to speak about yourself and your work, make sure you're also listening to what others have to say. Understanding their needs and interests can help you offer value and establish a genuine connection.
  • Collect Business Cards: This age-old practice still holds value. Collecting business cards ensures you have the contact details of the people you meet. Just remember to follow up with them afterward!

Networking is an art, and like any art, it takes practice. Don't be disheartened if your first few attempts don't yield much. Keep trying, keep learning, and soon you'll be a pro at making the most of networking events!

Online networking for graphic designers

While in-person networking has its own charm, let's not underestimate the power of online networking. In fact, it's a key factor for entry-level graphic designers who want to expand their reach and connect with professionals beyond their immediate location. Here's how you can make the most of the digital world:

  • Join Social Media Groups: There are countless groups on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit dedicated to graphic design. Join these communities, participate in discussions, and share your work. It's a great way to gain feedback and make connections.
  • Follow Industry Leaders: Follow renowned graphic designers and design firms on social media. You'll not only get to learn from their work but also stay updated with the latest trends and opportunities.
  • Create Your Own Website: Having a personal website where you showcase your portfolio gives you a professional edge. It makes it easier for potential employers or clients to find you and see your work.
  • Participate in Online Forums: Websites like Quora or StackExchange have active graphic design communities. By answering questions or initiating discussions, you can demonstrate your expertise and connect with like-minded professionals.
  • Use Online Job Platforms: Websites like Behance, Dribbble, or UpWork aren’t just for finding jobs. They also provide opportunities to network with other designers and potential clients.

Remember, online networking isn't about instant results. It’s about building meaningful relationships over time. So, be patient, be consistent, and the results will follow.

How to follow up after networking

So, you've attended a networking event or had a productive online interaction. What's next? One of the most important tips for networking in graphic design as an entry-level employee is to follow up. Let's see what following up the right way looks like:

  • Send a Thank You Note: Whether you had a casual chat at a networking event or a formal interview, a quick thank you note never fails to leave a good impression. It shows that you value the other person's time and are genuinely interested in building a connection.
  • Connect on Social Media: Add the person on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter. It's a simple yet effective way to stay connected and keep the conversation going. Remember, don't bombard them with messages or requests. Keep it professional.
  • Share Relevant Content: Did you come across an article or a design that might interest them? Share it! It's a great way to start a conversation and show that you're thoughtful and proactive.
  • Offer Help: If you can help them in any way, don't hesitate to offer. This could be anything from sharing a design resource to offering feedback on their latest project. The goal is to add value to their work or professional life.

Following up is an art. Do it right and you'll not just build strong connections but also carve a niche for yourself in the graphic design community. So, don't forget to follow up after networking!

How networking boosts your career

Let's be honest. We all have, at some point, asked ourselves: "Why should I spend time networking?" The answer is simple. Networking as a graphic designer, especially when you're starting out, can significantly boost your career. Let's dive into why:

  • Opens Doors to Opportunities: Networking often leads you to opportunities that you might not find on job boards. Be it internships, projects, or full-time roles, networking can connect you to the right people at the right time.
  • Enhances Your Knowledge: When you network, you meet professionals who have diverse experiences and skills. Engaging with them can help you learn new design techniques, understand industry trends, and broaden your perspective.
  • Builds Your Personal Brand: Networking allows you to showcase your skills and personality outside of your portfolio. This can help you establish a strong personal brand that sets you apart from other entry-level graphic designers.
  • Provides Support: The graphic design industry can be competitive. Having a network of professionals who support and motivate you can make your journey much more enjoyable and less stressful.

In a nutshell, networking builds bridges to success in your graphic design career. So, go out there (or stay in and log onto LinkedIn), start networking, and watch your career take off!

If you found our networking tips for new graphic designers helpful and want to continue boosting your career, don't miss Ana's workshop titled 'Top Tips For Navigating An Illustration Career.' Although focused on illustration, the principles and advice shared in this workshop can be applied to graphic design as well. Learn from an industry expert and elevate your career to new heights!