Setting up a network of professional contacts is advantageous while looking for a career in the fashion industry; Employers in the industry are much more likely to hire you if they know who you are or, at least, have heard about you from someone. There are some important things that you can do to increase your chances of making necessary professional relationships.
Find out about different fashion events in your area that you can participate in and find some organisations that you can volunteer for, or join networking events, attend career fairs; find an internship, volunteer at fashion shows etc. These events and firms will give you a chance to meet some of the people who truly work in the fashion industry, and in order to benefit from these relations don’t miss any opportunity to help or assist them.
Business networking opportunities are everywhere. Whether you’re developing a great working relationship with a current employer or trying to raise your profile on LinkedIn, attending a work related event which could be full of industry contacts, you must remember that in almost every work situation you encounter, there’s an opportunity to make a good impression on someone who might be a great contact in the future.
Don’t promote, relate!
Having a strong professional networking isn’t about selling too much! The main aspect is to build relationships. At work conferences and networking events listen rather than talking too much about yourself. If you find common ground and connect, as well as remembering what’s being said, you can impress them with your powers of recalling the conversation or speech from earlier.
It also helps to prepare and practice a 10-second ‘elevator pitch’ that succinctly describes who you are and what you are seeking, should the right opportunity arise. Only give out a business card when it’s appropriate, to people who show a real interest in what you do.
Follow up respectfully
After an initial meeting, follow up with your contacts with a ‘thank you and nice to connect’ message. Send them an article or other information they might find helpful. Make it a priority to follow up promptly so you’re fresh in their mind, and invite them to connect on LinkedIn or a similar industry networking platform. These methods can be highly effective for building your connections, ensuring any future approach is more warmly received.
Ask for advice
One basic professional networking rule is to only ever ask for advice, not an actual job – and never pressure anyone to help you if they seem reluctant. Ask a contact if they could help you with any insights about a position, or their industry or organisation. Suggest possible introductions that could be made from both sides and volunteer your own insights and influence readily.
Remember that good business networking is a continual process, not a one-off event. Be proactive and consistent, and take the time to build valuable two-way connections that can pay off for both parties in the long run.