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Archive | October 27, 2009

How To Be A Good Design Team Member

Today’s guest blogger is again CarrieAnne Deloach. CarrieAnne is the former Executive Editor of Scrap n’ Art Magazine, an experienced design team participant, and the current President of Couture Cardstock, a new division of the Cardstock Warehouse.

On November 1st CarrieAnne will be officially launching Couture Cardstock at couturecardstock.com. Though they already have a staff of designers, they will be announcing an Open Design Team call for one cardmaker, one 3D artist, and one SVG cutter file creator.

Today’s post is part two of two. Part one, titled How To Be A Good Design Team Sponsor, was published yesterday.

As I discussed yesterday, I believe that the relationship between designers and design team sponsors is key to the success of companies, and even the entire scrapbook industry.  The four principles that I provided then about how to be a good design team sponsor also apply to being a good design team member, for different reasons:

1. Recognize and Value Expertise

Hopefully, you have selected the design team sponsor that you did because you are in love with their product, services or perspective. Now that you have made the team, it is your responsibility to find out everything you possibly can about their products, and develop unique techniques, projects and tutorials for uses your sponsor had not yet thought of. This requires you to be current in your field.

Like any professional, your value lies in your knowledge base. Actively read and research what others in paper crafting are doing. Compare and contrast your sponsor’s product or service to the capabilities of their competitors. Write down your observations, and offer them when asked, or volunteer them in a respectful manner if no one prompts you directly. Suggest directions you would love to see the product line go in. If your advice is not warmly received, keep a personal journal of your opinions and product-related observations. You may find that after an opportunity to contemplate your input your sponsor is more receptive.

If their mindset never changes consider this rigidity when the time for your contract renewal comes up. Your notes will at least continue to be a valuable source of information for your own professional development and for any future employers.

2. Invest in your Talent

Making a design team wins only half of your professional battle. You want to continue making design teams and growing professionally. This requires continued education. Whether you enjoy attending online or brick-and-mortar classes (or are a self learner), continue to push the envelope. Visit your local scrapbook store, read CHA updates and visit the sites of key industry leaders to keep up on the latest industry trends and tool development. Though what you can afford is determined by your individual budget, invest wisely in tools and products which will keep your skill sets current.

It is also wise to stay informed on the “business side” of the industry. There are a number of websites, like Scrapbook Update, that track company mergers, bankruptcies, and changes in top level leadership. Be sure that you are hitching your star to a constellation that plans on burning brightly for quite some time and that you are taking advantage of every opportunity the marketplace can offer you.

3. Put Your Best Saleswoman Forward

As a designer you have two skill sets you should be maximizing. The first, of course, is your creative genius and the artwork and techniques you develop from it. The second is your network. As a professional who has invested considerably in your online presence, are you making the most the connections you have made from popular scrapbooking and stamping forums, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter? Have you created a database, rolodex or address book of the people you know and the companies who they currently work for or have worked for in the past? This information will prove invaluable to you as you seek out new design team positions, need letters of reference, or attempt to improve the non-competitive inter-industry relationships needed by your current design team sponsor.

When attending trade shows, crops, workshops, or local store events, are you giving and getting business cards and building your network? When you are being compensated for attending such events by a design team sponsor, are you using even your “free time” to seek out partners and persons that offer complimentary product lines or who would make great additions to your team as guest designers or permanent staff? Your ability to “connect” yourself and those you work for will inestimably raise your market value in the eyes of your employer or perspective employer.

4. Be Reputable in Your Dealings

It is undeniable that mankind has produced some unsavory bosses. With that being said, do you really want to be the type of person who sinks to their level? If you take the step of signing onto a design team, whether by verbal agreement or by signing a contract, you have given your word to perform a task for a specified period of time. Your sponsor is placing his/her time, trust and resources in you with the expectation that you will perform your assigned duties as promised. It is extremely disruptive to their sponsors both financially and time wise for designers to abandon teams or take payment without providing what you promised. Though life’s emergencies do occasionally present themselves, you should, with only the rare exception, complete the task you have agreed to complete.

Should an emergency arise, contact your design team coordinator and mitigate the disruption your situation will cause as best as possible. Be sure to understand the problem resolution process of your sponsor. Does he/she have a mentorship program or chain of command? Identify and establish a relationship with these key individuals so that should personality conflicts, deadline issues, or product usage questions arise you will be fully prepared to solve them within established guidelines. A marker of a successfully completed tenure on a design team is your employer’s willingness to write you a letter of recommendation.

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