Making an Excellent First Impression as a Graphic Designer
First impressions last a lifetime. Making a great impression can lead to career success and prosperity. Making a poor impression can lead to instability throughout your life. No matter your career path, there are simple steps you can take to ensure that you are well received during your next interview or client meeting. Let’s take a look at the process for making a great first impression as a graphic designer. There are several things you can do to look as professional as possible, but here are a few of the top things you should be starting with.
1. Research Your Client
Start every graphic design venture by researching your client. What industry are they in? What needs do they have? What is their mission statement, and what do they hope to accomplish from this project and future projects. These are some of the basic things you need to know before meeting with a client. You should approach the initial meeting with a client the same way you would approach a traditional job interview. You should know the general needs of the client, and you should be prepared to ask your own follow up questions.
2. Prepare Your Portfolio
Once you’ve completed the initial research for your client, you should prepare your portfolio. The items you include in your portfolio should reflect the previously researched needs of the client. You’ll want to display projects that demonstrate skills in the areas that are important to your client. If your client is a print magazine, show off your layout skills and previous magazine style projects. If your client needs email and newsletter designs, show them your past projects related to print design and composition. Ideally, you’ll have projects that directly relate to your client’s needs. If you don’t have relevant projects in your portfolio, then create them. You can’t have too much design experience.
3. Put Together A Client Package
After carefully selecting relevant projects to include in your portfolio, you’ll need to prepare a client package. A client package is a personalized set of documents outlining the project goals, resources and expectations. This package will be empty prior to the start of your first meeting, but you’ll fill out the information as you meet with the client and discuss the project in more detail. Create a standard package that will be used for your upcoming clients. This package should include questions and outlines for your client. Having this package immediately on hand is a great way to demonstrate your attention to detail and how much you care about the client’s needs.
4. Be Prepared With Answers To Commonly Asked Questions
Go into every new client meeting with the assumption that your client is unfamiliar with graphic design. Take the time to think of questions that may come up during your meeting. Even large companies may be new to working with a dedicated graphic designer. Have clear guidelines on your policies and procedures. Discuss topics such as how you will communicate with the client, your current availability, how long similar projects have taken to complete etc. Being as clear and transparent as possible is crucial. Do everything that you can to decrease the possibility of misinformation.
5. Gather The Materials You Need To Start Working On The Project Immediately
Finally, be prepared to start the project immediately. Every client is different, and every project is different. Some clients prefer to wait a week or two before taking on larger scale projects. Other clients may want you to start immediately. Always be prepared to start on a project immediately. Having the ability to start a project immediately may be the difference between being hired for the project or being turned down. When opportunity knocks, you need to be available to answer.
The key to making a great first impression is being prepared. You can establish yourself as an industry leader by showing competence and professionalism. There could be several designers applying for the same project. Stand out from the crowd by showing a true interest in the project, and providing thoughtful solutions for the client. Use every opportunity to make a lasting impression. Learn from your past mistakes, and take the advice of experienced designers.