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As an interior designer, good networking is essential not only to get new clients or referrals, but also to have a group of like-minded people that can bounce around ideas, and help each other grow. With a good network, you’ll have people that can tell you about the hurdles that you might face when looking to expand your business, and how they overcame those hurdles.
Here are our best methods for growing your network as an interior designer.
1) Be an expert in your community
Being an expert in your community doesn’t always mean handing out free stuff or offering free services. When you try to help others by sharing ideas, writing blog posts, creating instructions videos, etc. people start to see you as someone who knows what they’re doing. As more people start to see this, you’ll be invited to events as a guest speaker, to schools as a guest lecturer, and even to government events. These are of course great opportunities to expand your business but they are also a great way to help those around you.
2) Attend networking events (even if they are paid events)
Almost every city (or city near you) will host events or conferences specific to your field. You can go to tradeshows for interior designers to find new furniture vendors, you can go to tradeshows tailored for people in the construction field in order to find contractors near you that you can call on for construction work, and the list goes on. Don’t limit yourself to just interior designer events because ultimately you will want to build a network of all types of people to be truly successful in business.
Imagine this, you go to a trade show tailored for construction workers, and you meet someone there who does residential concrete work. While working with a client on interior design, you find out that they’re thinking about redoing their front yard and need to find someone to do concrete work. Referring them to the person you met is a great way to show your clients that you have connections in other fields, while at the same time giving work to someone who might be able to refer work back to you in the future.
3) Leverage social media to grow your network
Social media has become a huge source of work for many people and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, so why not leverage social media for your business? We don’t mean just posting your projects on there as a photo dump and then calling it a day. Leveraging social media to grow your interior design network means finding people in your field, and helping them grow as well. For example, share a video with tips on where you source your furniture as an interior designer, this will ultimately get other interior designers to see your post, and they’ll remember that you’re the one that gave them this information.
Leveraging social media becomes much more powerful the more you post, as other interior designer sees your content pop up on their feed more and more often, they’ll see how much you’re helping other interior designers. When they need help with a project, or need to refer another interior designer when they have too much work, who do you think they’ll think of first?
With all this said, even when networking, try to be genuine. Be honest when trying to help someone, people can tell when someone is actually trying to help and when someone is doing it just for a referral. When you started your business, there would definitely have been at least a handful of people who gave you advice that saved you time and money, and it’s only fair that you pass that information and help forward.
As long as you treat your network with respect, and try your best to help them as much as they help you, they’ll stick around. So go update your website to make sure you have a portfolio on there (see why we highly recommend a website here), and then get out there to hand out those business cards.