It’s one thing to have a solid business, and another entirely to have a strong business network. Cultivating your network takes time and attention, but the benefits (aside from knowing people who get it) can grow and diversify your work. We asked five designers—Susan Hayward, Sophie Goineau, Trish Lynn, Betsy Pascucci and Elizabeth Burch—how they approach networking.
“Networking is critical in this business. Unlike most other industries, interior designers tend to work in smaller companies. Our best networking sources are the tradespeople we work with every day: builders, contractors, woodworkers, electricians, plumbers, tile installers, painters, etc. How well we work with our trades reflects who we are, and that info gets passed on to potential clients. We value these artisans for their craft and for the value they bring to the table.” —Susan Hayward, Susan Hayward Interiors, Milton, Massachusetts
“Talking about networking is so difficult. It’s necessary for all of us, but the energy output can be taxing, and it’s hard to know where to focus. In the past, I was ambivalent in promoting myself, but I’ve recently changed this mindset. I had to get over the feeling that it would be self-centered to put myself out there; people need to see what you’ve done and you need to speak about it. I put my trust in professionals who supported me, and [they] convinced me that visibility in the media and in public is good for my company—and for the image of women in the business world at large. Seeing my media presence as a way to support my colleagues and other professional women has freed me to take action and embrace connections I didn’t formerly cultivate. Now, my baseline networking tactics are purely natural. Being passionate about the work is a great place to start because it seeps more effortlessly into everything; after you’ve been in the field for a while, everything becomes about the work. Dinners, traveling, gallery shows, media and commercial events—if your design work is your perspective, the discussion naturally goes there. Of course, there’s nothing like networking [by others on your behalf]: The best is word of mouth from happy clients.” —Sophie Goineau, Sophie Goineau Design, Los Angeles
“Networking plays a huge role [for our firm]. We’ve discovered so many talents through social media channels, at shows like High Point Market and other industry events. We think the best way to grow in the industry is through on-site experience, listening to trades explain their craft and learning as we go.” —Trish Lynn, Colette Interiors, Chatham, New Jersey
“Our industry is deeply reliant on the success of relationships—professional networking is a critical driver of growth. We actively seek out events and shows that provide opportunities to meet other creatives while helping to elevate our brand. We attend ICFF, NY Now, BDNY and High Point Market, as well as shows in other relevant industries including Art Basel Miami and Salon Art + Design. We consistently advance our education in topics that complement and enhance interior design, like art and sustainability. I am a member of U.S. Green Building Council, Long Island; additionally, I am an active member of ASID and on its Health, Wellness & Sustainability Committee. Since the pandemic, I have a renewed appreciation for human connection and look forward to every interaction. I feel fortunate to work in an industry filled with so many exciting, informative and educational options for expanding our professional networks.” —Betsy Pascucci, Pascucci Design, Glen Cove, New York
“I rely greatly on social media and word of mouth to get the word out about my design services. I have a wonderful professional network due in large part to attending two sessions of Design Camp, which is a strategic business retreat for interior designers. It was such a great opportunity to connect with other designers, and the relationships I formed there are invaluable to running my own business.” —Elizabeth Burch, Elizabeth Burch Interiors, Nashville
Homepage image: Sophie Goineau uses velvet banquettes to add an old-school touch to the Porta Via Palm Desert restaurant in California | Michael Clifford