Networking is a tried and true tactic for making connections and building relationships across all industries, including fashion. However, the fashion world has a unique professional environment that calls for equally unique networking strategies. Here are five need-to-know tips for networking in the fashion world.
Dressing for the job you want is an effective networking tactic for most industries, but it has heightened importance in fashion. The industry provides more room to express your individuality, putting more pressure on you to make the right clothing choices. While other industries have an elevator pitch, in the fashion industry your outfit is the elevator pitch.
Dressing appropriately for networking events and fashion shows demonstrates a charismatic fashion sense and knowledge of the industry. It also shows which clothing brands you prefer to wear, which could help you connect with potential employers. You must learn how to walk the line between fashionable and professional to make yourself stand out.
Reaching out to high-ranking individuals can demonstrate your ambition, but it can also come off as rude and annoying. You should first make an effort to connect with like-minded people in similar employment situations. You can help each other look for job opportunities, give honest feedback and advance up the industry ladder together.
The connections you make early in your career will prove vital later on. If ever you need a reference for a new job or advice from a trusted source in the industry, you know who to call. These relationships might also lead to productive business partnerships and collaborations, which are common in the fashion industry.
In-person networking events have become less frequent since COVID-19 began, so you need to take full advantage of social media and job boards. Instagram is the most important application for fashion because of its emphasis on photo and video editing, but Linkedin, Twitter and other social media platforms can also help you grow your professional network.
Post unique content on your profile, interact with other designers, follow the top brands and join emerging fashion designer groups. You might not get the personal touch of in-person networking, but far more people will see your social media presence, increasing the chance that you meet someone who can accelerate your career.
Fashion trends change more quickly than most other industries. There is a constant stream of new products from brands big and small, creating many niche followings and obscure fashion genres that some rookie designers can’t keep up with. You must read up on the latest trends to identify these new followings and genres as they emerge, not after they’ve become popular.
The information you gather from your readings will boost your confidence and help you to stand toe-to-toe with industry professionals. You should have an answer for any question they might ask. After all, networking is about showing off your knowledge and conversational skills. An expansive knowledge base will help you calm your social anxiety and sound more well-spoken.
Networking events and online platforms are valuable, but fashion shows are the main events you should focus on. Look for fashion shows in your area and attend as many as you can. It’s the most straightforward way to meet established figures in the industry and get your foot in the door.
You won’t have much time to make a lasting impression, but that’s why dressing the part and doing your research are so important. You need to be 100% prepared for when you approach a professional and initiate conversation. Even if the conversation lasts for 30 seconds, your fashion sense and well-spoken demeanor will shine through.
Starting a career and establishing yourself in the fashion industry won’t be easy. Job options are limited and nepotism continues to steal opportunities from hard-working individuals. That means you need even harder to make your mark.
Dress for success, connect with like-minded people on all available platforms, do your research and become a familiar face at local fashion shows. Nothing is guaranteed in this volatile industry, but with these efforts and a good support network, you just might make it.