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As a member of a graphic design organization, you will find yourself in the position of socializing with an employee of a competing firm. In all instances of communication, do not ever stab anyone in the back, belittle the result of a project or betray your own position by "leaking" information. It will get back to your employer or - worse - to your client. Unless you've known the other person since birth, you have no idea what their connections might be in the design community. Safeguard your own livelihood by being discreet about your work and your clients.
Your membership in a graphic design organization will offer various perks and benefits. Look beyond the fine print and realize that your involvement in the organization is also a source of networking and new job sources. If the organization has an online forum, participate in helping others, as well as in asking questions. Be sure to lurk a bit first and find the "temperature" or attitude of those participating. It's best to gow ith the flow of a conversation rather than jumping in and "interrupting" a thread with an off-topic request or remark.
You can't design in a vacuum. Feedback, networking and developing your social skills are part and parcel of the design profession. Plus, you can get a lot of advice on how not to ambush your clients, whether or not to take on spec work, and how to NOT give away the farm on your next project. Join a local or national graphics guild. Go to Chamber meetings. Join a local art organization. Take classes. You're never too old or so smart to learn about new people or skills.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|