Importance of Networking

Networking is for everyone, artists and designers alike. Think of your network as your support group of like-minded professionals. Whether it’s getting help with a gallery show application, trying to earn an interview at a design firm, or seeking mentorship and advice for your next career move. Leveraging your connections will give you an advantage in whatever career challenges you face as a fine artist, designer or entrepreneur. 

A student networks with an employer at the Design Portfolio Review, Networking Reception.
Your Introduction

Everyone should be equipped with a clear and efficient introduction to share in an impromptu meeting. Whether attending a gallery opening, a professional conference or connecting online, a concise explanation of who you are and your short term goals will generate meaningful conversation. Preparing your introduction in advance has the added benefit of helping shy or introverted people to start a conversation like a pro. 

employer and student in conversation
Your Strategy

Focus and persistence are key in order to achieve your career goals. In order to get the most out of networking, maintain a list of top prospects whether it’s your favorite design firms or fine art organizations, and the designers or fine artists you aspire to work with some day. Set aside modest time each day or week to research the prospects on your list, looking for new connections and keeping in contact with the ones you’ve already established. Pro tip: Cramming in hours of networking is not nearly as effective as networking for an hour or two per week.  

A student engages with an employer in the Student Waiting Area of the Design Portfolio Review.
Keep In Touch

A common question we get in career advising is, “What do I say when I reach out to someone that I’ve already made contact with? I feel like I don’t have anything new to say and I don’t want to bug them!” First, let’s consider the why. We keep in touch so that our contacts don’t forget about us. So that if an opportunity arises, whether it be fine art or design related, you may be considered. 

Here’s a simple outline to use for any monthly outreach to your top prospects. First, give praise! Was your contact in a new show that you could comment on? Did your contact’s company release a new line of products that you like? Be specific with your praise. That’s what makes it believable. Second, what have you been up to? Share a brief story relating to your recent work or possibly some new techniques or tools you’ve been learning to progress your professional skills. Include a couple images to enhance your info and let’s face it:Creative people like pictures. Lastly, promote your goals. Remind your contact of your immediate goal whether it’s getting a job at their awesome studio or finding an exhibition opportunity for your latest artwork. Outreach messages like this are a pleasure to read and stand the best chance of making a meaningful connection your allies out in the world. Pro tip: Do it yourself greeting cards featuring an image of your work with a handwritten note are rare in this digital age. Mail it to your prospects during a special time of year for a pleasant surprise that could enhance your rapport and general good will. 

Key Ways to Network

Whether in-person or online, there are multiple ways to network effectively and in a style that matches your personality. 

RISD Events

The Career Center provides other opportunities to engage with professionals on campus. In the Fall, Internship Connect hosts over 70 companies and art organizations, ready to meet students and answer questions about their organizations. In the Spring, the Design Portfolio Review and Fine Arts Portfolio Review hosts over 200 organizations, to critique your work and provide feedback for improvement. 

RISD Network
RISD Network

The RISD Network is a multifaceted platform that helps foster connections between RISD students and thousands of alumni around the world, facilitating career-related conversations between RISD students and alumni. It offers an opportunity to seek knowledge and advice, explore new career paths and build a professional network. 

Join the RISD Network

LinkedIn logo

This professional networking platform hosts 500+ million users and 16+ million companies and organizations. With a basic profile, you can search for professionals by organization or company, by geographic location, by discipline and any imaginable keyword. Much like meeting someone at an opening or conference, you can invite someone to connect, thank them if they accept, and begin a discussion, which will sometimes lead to a meaningful professional contact. 

The Rhode Island School of Design Alumni Group on LinkedIn hosts almost 10,000 verified alumni and students on the platform. Request to join the group to give your network a boost! 

Join The Rhode Island School of Design Alumni Group

Instagram logo

With over 1 billion users, this photo-sharing social network has become the ideal networking and promotion tool for fine artists and designers. Expert users will focus their posts on their work and on inspiring moments, as they follow and interact with other creatives on Instagram. Following your target art organizations and design companies may reveal a view behind-the-scenes as well as networking conversations via direct message. 

Don’t forget to follow @risdcareers with daily, career-related information geared for students and alumni alike.

Follow Us On Instagram

professionals at a networking event
Professional Associations

There are valuable, professional associations and directories within the fine art and design fields. Don't miss the Resources by Major listings to find even more leads to fuel your networking strategy.

Explore Associations By Major

How To Use LinkedIn - Video Tutorial

Watch this on-demand tutorial for a deep dive on how to effectively use LinkedIn to grow your network.