Welcome to another post within this professional practice series. We are going to discuss the topic of Networking from the last of Debbie Longbridge’s lectures from career advice to general skills. The main themes from the discussions on the day were focused on making friends and maintaining relationships to increase your sphere of contacts and influence.
(Imagine creating an empire to dominant the creative industry but by being original, honest and yourself… without the evil war mongering. Historically it pays off to build and maintain links, so you can’t be shy or antisocial in this case.)
The main rules to follow when networking where:
- Embrace the blag within.
- Maintain relationships.
This idea of embracing the blag within is something that I would struggle with and have done over my life, it seems that being modest to avoid looking superior or snobbish with your work or skills plays against your favour. Yet, this ‘blag’ doesn’t have to be some self-centered drive to show off that you’re better than others but instead to prove that you can relate and communicate or even challenge ideas. These traits of communication and generally being human allows you to establish bonds to make contacts be it for work, training or simply information.
(it’s not as insidious as it sounds, below is something insidious just to clarify).
Essentially blagging isn’t bragging, as the latter is the embodiment of the negative features I’ve just mentioned. Blagging is an attempt to relate, inform other of your skills and portray your niche or visual voice to establish your footing in a competitive industry.
The debate took us further into the meaning behind Networking, and that is its practically a map or web of people connected by relationships, yet there are two way relationships. They require maintenance to really see any benefits. Debbie mentioned that simply emailing or phoning contacts on a more casual attitude rather than asking about jobs makes the other person feel valued and respected for themselves as people not just their occupation status. I would agree with the entirety of this discussion; the same principles apply with making friends. Being there to listen to their own story or conversation and correspond equally creates that bond. You don’t make friends with those who simply use you, or don’t put the effort in, it just doesn’t work; the same literally applies in the networking world. It’s about how I as a creative can help them, the client. No one wats to be treated like an object to be sued simply for information, hence this human or extroverted attitude is required to build your networking web; otherwise you’re simply a lone wolf falling behind in a rapidly growing and competitive industry without a friend to rely on.
(A network of friendly spies.)
Essentially networking requires you to create bonds, and build on those relationships to further your development. It may not result in immediate work but it’s about playing the long game and reaping the reward in the long run. There’s also the virtual world where connecting with people is easier and much faster than before, meaning introverts like myself can build those bridges without the first awkwardness of a physical conversation. The internet then leads to that human element thus meaning again that like in the previous blog, that it’s about making and finding opportunities to build upon yourself now before leaving university.
Talking about opportunities I have been researching possible employment or experience to be had within the illustrative industry.
Currently there is the Association of Illustrators world illustration competition that is held every year, as well as their internship programs. Although the internship is about project management it’s still another great chance to build up more skills, knowledge, wisdom and contacts in the practical communal hub of illustrative practice.
Another chance for recognition or experience is the UN Cartoon competition called the Lurie Award. This is competition devoted to Ranan Lurie, an infamous political cartoonist where satirists and cartoonists come together to communicate the values of the United Nations in a creative manner. I think due to my interests in world affairs and my previous work in caricatures that this would be a fantastic chance to get my work in the public sphere with in a high global level establishment.
There are also internships at the Dutch Uncle design collective, although it’s very selective and competitive, the chance to work with and alongside well established creatives in their everyday working lives. It would allow for a great amount of professional insight and direction from those who’ve essentially made it as working creatives.
These are what the collective state you’ll experience from the internship.
- Helping with workload on creative projects
- Liaising with international freelancers
- Researching new projects
- Visualising designs and creating concepts
- Assisting on commissioned assignments
- Refreshing portfolio’s and social news
Ultimately what we can conclude from these discussions and findings is that networking is about people. Nothing more and nothing less, if you treat greater or lesser than your build yourself up for failure. The human element behind is what brings people together, even introverts like me can ironically come together in that collective sense of awkwardness to communicate. By taking those chances to create bonds or gain experience from other you grown and evolve as person and professional creative, hence why I will pursue the united nation competition and other competitions to get myself out there, even sign up for a creative internship. Despite it possibly ending in failure to win or be accepted it’s the experience that matters.
(Don’t be a machine basically.)