[Webinar] Building Your Network - Online and in Person


On May 23, Dering Hall was joined by Marisa Marcantonio, Director of Trade Relations at Chairish Inc, for an informative discussion on expanding your network as a designer or high-end maker. Marisa shared top tips and helpful strategies for building relationships through design events, social media, and your local community.

About Marisa Marcantonio
Marisa Marcantonio is the Director of Trade Relations for online home decor destinations, Chairish and DECASO, a decorative arts society. She has spent the past 20 years in the design field, as an editor at interior design magazines including House Beautiful, as a creative consultant, trend spotter, industry speaker, and Business of Home video host. Her constant curiosity and passion for good design inspire her on a daily basis and make her a trusted voice in the design industry. New York-based, she is a widely recognized presence in the home decor field. Find her on instagram @stylebeatblog.

The webinar, which can be viewed above, covered the following topics:

Networking 101

  • You meet people through other people

  • Be in the mix, and connect with as many people as you can at a launch event or cocktail party

  • The more you are seen, the more you stay top of mind for others

  • Be nice. You never know when an opportunity may present itself.

  • Always introduce yourself with a smile and firm handshake

  • Always have business cards on hand - you never know who you will meet

  • Say hello to people you don’t know and strike up a conversation

  • Listen. People like to be heard and they may reveal interesting needs you can help them with

  • Follow up the next day to say you enjoyed meeting them and invite them for coffee

  • Make a specific ask if you want them to consider you as a designer, or if you represent a company, working with your brand

Start Local

  • Meet people with similar interests in your area and become a familiar face

  • Get involved in local charities

  • Connect with local design stores in your area

    • Designers can volunteer to help style window vignettes

    • Brands can volunteer to contribute products

  • Attend local showroom openings

  • Find out about book signings that design and lifestyle authors are doing in your area

  • To display your creativity in town

    • Partner with local floral designers and or use your talents to create vignettes for local businesses, events and schools

Local Publicity

  • Aim for regional publications before targeting larger publications such as Architectural Digest or Elle Decor

    • Local magazines and newspapers

  • Speak at local events

  • Sponsor events in the community (if feasible)

Key Industry Events

There are numerous design events throughout the year that are great places to network. Some of the events you should be attending are:

  • Conferences

  • Membership Based Groups

  • Showroom events

  • Showhouses

  • Panels

  • Market days at design centers and regional design centric areas

  • Book signings

  • Launch parties for new product introductions

  • Real estate events

  • Philanthropic involvement (DIFFA, Housing Works Design on a Dime, Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Decorator Show House)

Pro tip: Say yes to speaking opportunities at design events

Market Yourself

  • You are your calling card

  • Make sure your brand and message is consistent across all touch points

  • If you are communicating through email, add an email signature that has your title, contact details including phone number, logo, link to website and instagram handle

  • Your business card should be up to date with contact details

  • Since this is a visual field, it should embody your creative style

  • Doing a showhouse or event? Make it memorable. Get photography done and have postcards printed to distribute onsite to share the news (serves as a leave behind)

The Medium is the Message

  • Opportunities can arise at any time so make sure you are ready to sell yourself and your company.

  • That person sitting next to you on the flight to Florida could be a potential client

  • What do you believe in as a designer? What do you love? Come up with a manifesto or mission statement for your company. What are you good at? What makes you stand out? How are you different? What do you specialize in? Make this clear and apparent in your visuals

    • Make these answers part of your messaging and conversation in online communication and social media

Social Media Landscape:


Get Cozy with Social Media

  • Instagram – Visual medium that creatives prefer Instagram posts are where you show moments of your best work. Instagram Stories allow you to share your personality and don’t have to be as polished. Give a peek, but don’t give too much away since full rooms are best saved for digital editorial opportunities

  • Pinterest – Extremely valuable in the design community. Share images, content, inspiration, etc.

  • Facebook –  Biggest social media site. Great for all content formats (text, images, videos, live, etc.)

  • Twitter – Great for keeping up information and content in real-time.

  • LinkedIn – Professional networking

Digital Networking

Instagram tends to be the ruling platform for the design community. Here’s some ways to ramp up for those with a smaller following or those starting out:

  • Consistency is key. This includes posting on the Instagram feed and stories regularly, as well as finding and creating a consistent look and style.

  • Optimal cadence for starting out is stories at least once a day, and 3-5 feed posts per week.

  • Engaging on others' content is extremely important as well, including commenting.

  • Focus on posting your own work to start, since your feed is how people get to know what you are about from your style to how you solve design problems, and the kind of work you do.

Professional Polish

  • As part of your marketing strategy, your Instagram is your calling card.

  • Imagine editors and potential clients checking it out, so I advise against content that is too personal. Adding personality to your business profile is fine, but keep the pictures of your family vacation and the food your eating for your personal account.

  • Instagram does not favor personal accounts. If you are in business, switch to having a business account.

  • Business Accounts get access to exclusive features of Instagram that aren’t available with a personal account.

  • As a business, you want to think of your Instagram as an extension of your marketing efforts, so having access to analytics and knowing how your content is performing is a major bonus.

  • Plus, with a personal account and no access to analytics, you'll never know if you actually are reaching a broader audience. The power is in the numbers!

Attract New Business

  • Identify your ideal client(s)

  • Build your strategies with the intention of a desired outcome: attracting a new client

  • Be where your clients are

  • Determine how you can reach them visually and creatively

  • This includes through designing a vignette at a local event or charity, doing an email newsletter, social media or your online presence through Dering Hall

Stay on Top of Online Platforms

  • Update portfolios and product listings as often as possible

  • Create consistency across the platforms you use so they have the same look and feel

  • Share your content frequently and regularly to your social networks and other platforms

  • Provide your name, firm name, contact information, and a link to your Dering Hall portfolio and Instagram

  • Be accessible: make it easy for others to find you

Dering Hall would like to thank Marisa Marcantonio from Chairish Inc. for participating in this webinar and sharing her experience, knowledge, and expert tips for expanding your network online and offline.

Click here for more information on joining our Trade Program.

Erin Gilbert