new to networking

I started my “one man shop” not too long ago, and now I find myself needing to find more clients…
I heard that most people say the best way to do so, is networking…
So my question is: where? how? when? etc etc…

I am in Montreal, Qc, and there are no real manufacturers assosiations, where I could meet a reasonable density of possible clients…The closest it gets to that is the local chamber of commerce…That I think I will have to join soon…

But where else can you network? How? Any “secret” that you could share with me?
Any imput you can give me on this would be most appreciated!

How else could I find new clients? I amd oing some advertising, and cold calls, but this is far from being very effective…

Thanks all!


hi. welcome to the wide wonderful world of owning your own business. (seriously. it takes a certain breed to actually do it).

networking is as much an art as it is a practice. the simplest answer i can give is this: go to wherever the clients are. for example, as architects (and we really have the same issues as most industrial designers), we tend to look for opportunities to be in the same rooms as the decision makers in our target markets. we do a lot of museum work and most of it we’ve gained by going, regularly, to conferences that are primarily geared towards museum directors and high level staff. same for libraries, etc. also, at all of these, we try our best to lead a seminar or get some other role where we can speak to as large an audience as possible, about something we’re passionate about as a firm.

your post didn’t indicate if there is an area you’re focusing on, but my advice would be to pick one or two you’re deeply interested in. research the companies you’d like to work for or with and then do your best to introduce yourself to them and tell them what it is your shop can offer (is it personalized attention? higher client or end user response to your work, etc.). you’ll have about 5 minutes to make the connection. (offer to take them out to lunch - works wonders for making things more informal).

finally, all networking is ultimately about creating personal relationships. our best clients took years to actually have projects come to fruition - we began by genuinely getting to know them as people and as professionals. it’s a long process for most, so don’t expect it to yield instant projects or work of some kind.

Hi Laru,

Thanks for your reply!
I was starting to fear no one would answer.

I have a few fields in which I’d like to focus, but I don’t necessarily have a lot of experience in these fields, and that makes it harder…You can’t say your are a specialist in a field, and then have about 2 projects in it…

Does anyone else have any tips here?

this is a link to the 36 point (Graphic Design) podcast about networking
many of the ideas should still apply. I would take a listen if I were you, but will also attempt a brief summary
As Laru alluded to, much of the time it’s about building a relationship over time, not one that starts with you saying “hey you got any work for me?” but one that grows from a mutual friendship or similar relationship. Involvement in different professional groups and speaking engagements (as Laru has mentioned) can also help. A website, forum, podcast, etc are all forms of networking. maybe I’m not doing a great job here, give the show a listen (it’s free)