Industry Experts On: Effectively Networking
In an industry that prides itself on preaching, “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”; networking has become an essential skill to master. Amongst the success stories, there is a common thread of careers being launched by not only being in the right place at the right time, but knowing what to do when you get there.
Not Just A Label speaks to Fashion and Textiles Designer, Dame Zandra Rhodes, and 10 Magazine Features Editor, Paul Toner, amongst other industry experts, on how to effectively network in a saturated sea that’s full of opportunity.
Dame Zandra Rhodes, Fashion and Textile Designer
"Since the beginning of my career I have known the importance of networking. I suppose you could say that's what I initially did in 1969, when I met two Ukrainian models on a shoot who told me that I needed to go to the USA because I would do well there. I booked a ticket within a week and flew to New York where I met Diana Vreeland who shot my designs on Natalie Wood for Vogue.
I suppose what I am saying is that my stars aligned due to networking. It's the importance of getting your work out there and finding like-minded people who will lift you up and support you. Now get out there and do it!"
Liv Harrould, PORTER Magazine Editorial Digital Designer
“Be spontaneous with your ways of networking. Before the pandemic, most networking norms would predominantly be in person or face-to-face at events, time has since progressed methods and the ways of networking has expanded.
In my experience, I’ve found direct messaging on Instagram (keep it to a professional account) to be a very successful way of contacting somebody. I often find that I get a quicker response this way and if anything it helps the industry insider out in terms of catching them on with a quiet moment. Of course, keep it professional but focus your attention on being both concise & charismatic - inject your personality in there.”
Paul Toner, 10 Magazine Features Editor
“I think it’s important to just get out as much as possible and meet as many people as possible. I know it can be a bit of a chore to be going out multiple nights through the week but attending something small like a cocktail event or a store opening can lead you to meet someone who can help aid with the acceleration of your career.
Also, I know now it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to undergo free internships in the current financial climate, but if you’re looking for experience a lot of emerging designers, especially in London, are usually looking for some last minute help in the days/weeks leading up to their shows, it might be worth just keeping a track of their Instagram stories to see if they do a call out on their Instagram stories.
From a press standpoint, I also think it’s worth just reaching out to journalists and introducing yourself/your work, especially people who work around online publishing as opposed to print, there is more scope for your brand to be covered digitally.”
Maximillan Rayner, Designer
“Networking can seem like a bit of a daunting word - with connotations of Machiavellian scheming to get to the top or social climbing to seem relevant. But really networking is just finding your community and socialising with others in your field. I think networking is not something you should be too conscious of, rather something that happens naturally. If you set out to approach someone just because you want something, I think that’s forced, whereas it’s always those chance encounters at a party or exhibition, ones where you think nothing of it at the time, then two years down the line some fabulous collaboration transpires.
I learnt recently how important it is to remember who introduced you to who - never forget how you met someone or who enabled that encounter. Express and communicate gratitude to those people and involve or at the very least credit them if you end up working with someone they helped you to know. Aim to have a mastermind memory, if you’re told a name, remember it!
Most of all is to remember you don’t have to know or be friends with everyone. I think sometimes there’s this notion of the IN crowd that controls fashion, in some ways that can be true, but the industry is bigger and more diverse than meets the eye. You’ve just got to find your group, a true community where you fit in, not bang at the door of a crowd that’s probably not as ‘close’ and fabulous as they might seem from the outside.”
Kelly Robinson, KMR Founder & Director
“As a PR professional, networking is imperative to my job. It’s the crux of meeting like-minded designers and friends in the industry who will support your business. So many more doors open, and opportunities arise from attending industry events.
As someone who deals with social anxiety I understand the idea of networking can be daunting but getting to the event is the hardest part and once you’re there you will question why you don’t do it more often!
Tap into platforms such as Fashion Monitor and Diary Directory to see upcoming events for the month ahead. Even if it's an invitation only, it’s always worth asking!”
Tammy Kane, Christopher Kane Co-Founder & Creative Director
“It’s simple. Be yourself, be humble, and be consistent. That is all you need to do.”