Design Biz Connection: Building Relationships for Professional Development
One of my biggest regrets after graduating design school was not being a proactive networker. In fact, I wish I had harnessed this skill while I was still in school! Most designs events (back then) appeared cheesy, unauthentic and intimidating, to say the least.
After taking that leap of faith in 2014 to go out and start my own interior design firm, my attitude towards networking was the first thing to change. I soon saw the power and importance of building a community through intentional networking. Can you believe I never had a Facebook page of any kind until I started my business? I know, I know.... I just couldn't stand it. Even still, it's not my favorite, but I know it's necessary for my business.
With this new mentality of intentional networking I've spent that last few years seeking out ways to connect, build relationships and increase my professional development. This includes going to trade shows, testing various design software and experiencing new forms of learning such as Podcasts. I came across Ivy Mark, a project management software for interior designers that really helped me streamline my backend procedures. I found not only a great software but also a wonderful design community. Ivy has successfully established a community that thrives on content exchange and genuine support for one another, which is extremely rare in our competitive and private industry.
Thanks to my husband suggesting I listen to Podcasts (probably burnt out from me sharing all my crazy business ideas with him), I have since become an avid fan! One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is "A Well-Designed Business," by LuAnn Nigara. Though catered to interior designers, there are so many wonderful business insights to be had for all creatives. I highly recommend checking into this podcast. Interestingly enough, via a design Facebook page I joined, I was suggested by mutual design friend Darla Powell to be the guest blogger for LuAnn during the upcoming holiday months. I started out as a major fan and have become a guest blog contributor. My efforts to connect and learn had come full circle. Stay tuned for my guest post that will be featured soon.
It was also through listening to LuAnn's
podcast that I
After reading Amy's phenomenal book I reached out to her on Instagram thanking her for all the useful tips and direction I had learned! From there our friendship took off. Knowing Amy is very popular and well-sought, I was just hoping she would read my thank you note! I never expected I could be mentored by her and later we would experience new design opportunities together.
What was once a close-minded mentality about networking has now completely changed and blossomed into new roads and opened new doors.
In the spirit of gratitude for all that I had been learning (and still am learning) I hosted a gathering of 7 interior designers in my home to share some of these resources. Amy Flurry & Kathy Kinton were our guest speakers. The event was a major hit! After warm introductions and a tasty spread by yours truly, we jumped right in to Amy's presentation. A DIY guide to achieving PR on your own, a crash course on how to pitch projects to magazine editors.
Our intimate group of eight helped facilitate an open spirit amongst the designers which led to a more in-depth, thoughtful discussion. Amy took the time to speak to each designer and establish the "hook," the essence of their story and the angle in which to pitch it. We all learned that individual press is achievable on are own and now felt not only educated, but also empowered to take the first step in pitching to the publications for our next feature.
Part two of the event was led by Kathy Kinton and focused on custom window treatments and bedding. All too often designers are leaving money on the table by purchasing prefab drapes and bedding. We discussed valuable resources such as Fabricut and Cashmeres custom workrooms, drapery styles, and proper workroom order procedures. It was a wonderful time for community, education and growth not only in friendship but also in business practices.
I hope this post shows you the power of community and network building. For those intimidated just take the plunge, attend the events with a friend or business colleagues. A closed mouth doesn't get fed. Something you just have to open and ask for and speak into existence the things you want most! Thank you again Amy & Kathy for your time and knowledge shared during this special event!
If you are a creative be sure to check out our RESOURCES page. It's loaded with all kinds of tools, software and tips to get you organized and more productive. Also check out Amy Flurry and her partner Catherine Dash's fabulous handmade creations at the "Paper Cut Project"! All event photography by Amber Ulmer. If you're in need of a great interior design project management program please check out Ivymark.
Cheers, Laura Thurman