How to Build Meaningful Connections in the Web Design Industry

Web design can be lonely work at times. While you interact with clients and other creators, most of the job tends to be in a vacuum. You may work with a business owner a few times throughout the year and then you are on to other projects. Even if you work as a company employee, you likely work from home or are limited to connecting only with those within your brand. Web design networking introduces you to fresh ideas and builds relationships you may need down the line.

The concept of web design networking sounds fabulous, but it is a bit more complex in practice. Add to the difficulties in locating other designers in your area the fact that many creative types are also introverts who prefer to work alone from home and you have to be intentional to find opportunities. Here are ways to build meaningful connections with others in your industry.

Table of Contents

1. Broaden Your Base

The Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates 216,700 web designers in the United States. They are spread out across 50 states and industries, making connections more difficult. One thing you can do is broaden your base a bit and include other types of designers, such as those working in graphics and marketing.

Reach out to local people you have worked with in the past. Start a Facebook group to keep in touch with everyone. Send out cards, make phone calls and invite people to lunch. No one else understands a creator the way another artist does, so find the people who do not mind talking shop and seek them out.

2. Join Local Chamber of Commerce

Nearly every community has some type of business owner organisation or local chamber of commerce. Join yours to connect with like-minded people seeking to run their own brands. As a web designer, you want your web design networking to include potential clients.

A chamber of commerce is filled with leaders. They will either consider using you for services or may be able to refer you to others. Most groups have a directory of other members and some offer ads on their website for the general public to find.

3. Find a Mentor

No matter where you are on your web design journey, finding a corporate mentor to guide you can help you avoid pitfalls. Ideally, they would be someone who was in the web design or development industry. However, if you do not have one available in your area, any successful entrepreneur can help you refine ideas and begin your journey networking with others.

One of the top ways people gain new clients is via networking. An excellent mentor will introduce you to people who might be interested in your services.

4. Join Online Groups

Web design networking is not limited to your local community. Today’s business owners have the world at their fingertips, so jump on Facebook and search for groups on web design. If the group is public, stalk some conversations and see if you learn anything new or find something useful to your workflow.

Narrow down your list and join the groups that seem most valuable for you. You can also join general business owner groups. While most do not allow self-promotion, there may be occasional opportunities to share what you do or people might look at your profile and contact you directly based on conversations they have had with you on group posts.

5. Team Up

Find someone who complements what you do without directly competing. For example, you might team up with one of the tens of thousands of graphic designers in the country. With an average salary of $50,710 a year, they may be looking for ways to increase their income and expand their base.

If one of your clients asks for someone who designs logos and you only create website interfaces, you can send them to your contact. When one of their customers needs a new website, they return the favour. You can also run joint promos where the client gets a new logo and website for a set amount. Advertise one another to your mailing lists to expand your customer base without spending money on ads.

6. Find a Teacher

Sign up for a class at your local community college or online to learn more about your craft. No matter how long you have been a web designer or what you know, you can always learn something new. Perhaps you want to learn to utilise artificial intelligence (AI) more effectively in your design work or while communicating with clients.

With advances in AI and the ever-changing scope of business and web design, you can find courses that will expand your knowledge. Find the teachers you enjoy most and stay in touch. Take multiple classes, ask if they have recommendations for how to grow your brand and tell them you are available if anyone they know needs a web designer.

Networking does not always have to be about earning money. It can also bring new knowledge, creative brainstorming and companionship.

7. Attend Conferences

The Interaction Design Foundation gathered a list of global conferences for 2024 and separated them by month. The list is still being updated, so check it frequently. If you are having trouble connecting with other professionals in the industry, attending a conference gives you many opportunities to find like-minded people.

Go to any dinners or parties and force yourself to speak to at least one person. You will be surprised how friendly others can be. If they are not, you only put yourself out there a little and you will recover from the snubbing by knowing you are a great designer and human anyway.

Attend workshops and talk to the speaker afterward to let them know what you enjoyed about their presentation. Go to trade booth set ups and talk to those running them. Their job is to converse with you, so you will make connections easily.

8. Send Cards and Emails

Look for ways to stay connected to those you meet along the way, whether a client or a colleague. Keep a contact list and segment it by the type of network the person is in. Send out an email every quarter personalised to the group.

For example, you segment your list and send a note to other designers about something you have discovered that makes work easier. Tell them about a tool you like, a shortcut in design or new advances in AI. You also can send a note to your current and past clients letting them know about any exciting projects, upcoming discounts or asking for a referral to other business owners they know.

Web design networking is not just about meeting people — you must also stay connected and build relationships over time. Make the effort to reach out regularly and you will keep the connections you make, adding to them each month.

Do You Really Need Web Design Networking?

One could argue they do not have time for web design networking. However, missing out on meeting others in your field limits your growth. You can also connect with successful business owners who need names to give new clients they need more time to serve.

Those who have been in the industry for decades may only work in certain niches or take larger companies as clients. If they are familiar with you and your work, they may send leads your way and help your business grow so you can one day turn down projects. If you want to grow and learn along the way, meeting others is the best way to accomplish it. Put yourself out there and find new ways to network with others.

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Article written by Eleanor
Article written by Eleanor

Eleanor Hecks is the managing editor at Designerly. Connect with her about digital marketing, UX and/or tea on LinkedIn.

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