How to Successfully Market Your Skills: Peer & Industry Advice

Whether you are looking for the next step in your career right now, or simply want to market your skills for the future, these tips from Interior Designers and PR Agents will be an enormous help.

Cherrill Scheer, Director, Cherrill Scheer & Associates

‘It is important to have very good photographs of your best installations taken by a professional photographer, who is used to working with interiors.

No point in promoting yourself in an area in which you are not compatible- decide on and focus on a market or markets in which you want to specialise such as commercial, hospitality, educational, medical, residential.

If appointing a PR use someone who is known in those areas and who can  contribute to topics editors will be interested to publish.

Networking is most important- attending (eventually) seminars, exhibitions and other events.’

Sarah Dodsworth, Creative Director, SpaceInvader

‘This is undoubtedly a tricky time, whether you’re an experienced designer or a graduate looking for your foot into the industry. I’ve actually been advising my old tutors at Leeds Beckett University about the skills we’d look for in a graduate because of their obvious nervousness of heading into the market at this time.

Generally, regardless of experience level, I would say good communication skills are invaluable – written and verbal. Make sure CV and introduction letters are perfectly written, spell-checked (sounds obvious I know but you wouldn’t believe…), creatively-curated and eye-catching with loads of visual content to leave prospective employers wanting to know more about you and to get in touch. Often, if a CV is that good, even if there are no job vacancies immediately available, a solution can be found. It may open the door for an initial period of work experience, for example, which could lead onto paid employment.

I would say emphasising as broad a range of skillsets as possible is vital – we look for good all- rounders and candidates willing to get stuck in and put their hands to anything.

For me, personality and passion for the job is as important as pure skillset – candidates need to get this across. Achieving that, however, in these times, when a face to face interview is not necessarily a given, is a key challenge.’

Gail Race, Creative & Product Director, Vênoor Living & Director, Gail Race Interiors

‘Develop your personal brand Obviously now is a great time to update your CV but what about your personal brand?
Does your social media really reflect your design passion? I would be looking at a potential employees Pinterest and Instagram accounts to see if they are a good match for my design studio.

Hone your technical skills Now is absolutely the time to do those courses, listen to those podcasts, work on your technical skills. Keep on your toes and up to date.

Have a voice and an opinion Maintain good relationships with suppliers and your current network, a call or email just to say hello goes a long way.  Build your network using Linkedin and other professional platforms, start conversations on Instagram with the design practices who’s work you admire.  When the employment opportunities start to arise you want to make sure you are at the forefront of peoples minds.

Widen the net Now is the time to think differently and embrace the current situation.  If you are great at space planning could you offer your skills to help local restaurants layout their floorpans effectively for social distancing?  Could you use your interior design knowledge to help the many people struggling with working from home by make their homes work
better for them? What might seem obvious to you because of your skills really isn’t obvious to everyone and you could make a huge difference to peoples lives.

These won’t be great money makers but open minded flexibility and opportunism can certainly open the door to the next exciting opportunity.’

Sally Ketley, Director, The Word Creative

‘Images Only great images will do. The industry is all about inspiring, so gorgeous images of your work are your number one tool. It’s worth investing in professional photography, or at the very least, skilling up with your iPhone.

Words Be inspiring and confident but not pretentious. Your clients/employer needs to feel that they are in capable, professional, expert hands. Someone who will take charge, roll their sleeves up and lead the project without stressing them out. Ask someone else to proofread everything before you send it out. Check for grammar, typos, readability and clichés!

Testimonials A happy client will usually be more than willing to give you a testimonial but they may struggle for time/words. Make their lives easier by offering to write something for them. They can either edit or sign it off but either way, it’s a great way to actually get something useful.

Blogs and social media Get yourself noticed for the right reasons… I love @designhunteruk. Her blog and social media feed about the trials and tribulations of renovating a house is stylish, light-hearted, and beautifully polished. She gives great mentions to all the brands she uses, her images are top-notch and her website is joyfully uncluttered. Ten out of ten for sophistication and zero on the pretentious scale. Blog envy!’

Jeff Hayward, Director, Wildwood PR & Producer and Co-Presenter of The Interior Design Business Podcast

Think brand first. Why are you in interior design, what inspires you and why should clients work with you? Having a clear understanding of your business and its values with marketing activity that flows consistently from your brand at every touchpoint – from your website and your aesthetic to your media relations, and beyond – is so important.

Think about how you build and connect with your audience on social media. These channels are developing all the time, offering new tools and ways to engage with people and present yourself interactively with your audiences. YouTube, Facebook Live and IGTV are great free tools that give you a direct connection with people. For those keen to talk at a B2B level, then, LinkedIn has just launched a Your Story function very similar to Instagram. Stay abreast of social media – or employ an external contractor to help you – and use it. You are the media!

Leanne Wookey, Director of Interiors, TP Bennett

My advice is network, attend events and talks, ask questions at these events, the more you attend the more comfortable you will become meeting people as our industry is very social.

If you can’t meet in person then attending webinars, online workshops and round table events by connecting over experiences, challenges, passions and problems is a great option too.

Don’t be afraid to ask for coffee meetings with people you want to meet but park the big sell. People want to work with people they like and can buy into.

Connection is key to how we remember, trust and build relationships in our lives.

Be Authentic. Be Genuine. Be Present.

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About Alys Bryan

Alys' experience as a furniture designer, along with her in-depth marketing knowledge, makes her uniquely placed to work with the BCFA as the Editor of Design Insider and run her marketing business, Method Communications.
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