Working Smarter Guide: Career Development


Networking is connecting to individuals and companies that are within, or connected to your industry. It is about being known for the work that you do, as well as knowing others’ work practices and how they might connect with your own. The act of networking is diverse; from socialising and inviting individuals to see your work, to seeing the work of others. The key is being present and visible, however you feel comfortable doing that.

Join your professional organisations (like the APDG!) and sign up to their newsletters, events and social media.
Subsidised companies have regular opportunities for meeting new creatives, so don’t be afraid to write to the company’s artistic director to make an appointment.
Invite your network to see your own work.
See as much work by others as you can, and follow up personally if you sense a potential professional connection.

Key Links

Tips and Tricks

‘Don’t forget to nurture your designer peer group – mine has been a wonderful support and point of reference right through my career’
‘If there is a company or director that you really want to work with, reach out to the designers that work with them. Your relationship with that designer can act as a personal introduction to the company or director’
‘Alumni peer groups need an organiser to keep them useful – this could be you’
‘Connect with companies and individuals by building genuine rapport without expecting work opportunities’
‘Personally invite people to see your work’
‘Follow people you admire on social media. Comment on their work and you might start a conversation which develops into an IRL connection.’
‘The professional peers I most naturally keep in contact with (because they are my friends) really are my network; I’m just as likely to get work through my friendship with an actor, or a composer, or another designer as I am by conventional networking’
‘When I had my portfolio and website ready, I wrote to every company, director, artistic director, producer I could find contact details for. I sent out 30 emails, and felt happy to get 5 replies. One of these was my first job’
‘It took me a while to work out which groups and newsletters were really useful for me’
‘When you see a show and you love the direction or design, get in touch and let them know’
‘Joining an APDG committee can help strengthen your network with fellow designers, it is also quite satisfying to know you are contributing to improving your industry’
‘Reach out to those you admire to build your network. Make sure it is an actionable email that they can respond to. Their time is precious, so start with 1 or 2 smaller, easily answerable questions rather than 20. Chances are, they will respond’
‘A lot of work comes from other designers passing on your details when they are busy on another job – so keep your network active!’
‘Set up Google Alerts to local industry events, theatre or screen news, funding announcements etc.’
‘Go to industry-relevant talks, showcases and workshops. They’re great for professional development, and you could meet people which builds your network. Also, I hate ‘networking’ events so would rather have an activity to distract me from the networking I’m doing.’
‘I’m useless at remembering names. It’s a meaningful gesture when you greet someone by their name, there are lots of ways to remember so it’s worth finding a technique that works for you.’


Mentors can be an invaluable support at different stages of your career. A mentor may be a professional peer who acts as an informal sounding board, or it may be a more formal relationship.

The MENTORAPDG program is a scheme tailored to placing young and emerging live performance and screen designers in a supported mentoring relationship with senior designers over a 12 month period. We invite you to have a look and apply!

Various government and NGOs have focused mentoring programs:


Technologies and techniques are constantly developing. By keeping your skills current you are able to make your work more efficient and enjoyable. By obtaining professional qualifications or informal skills training, you can maintain relevant knowledge in an ever-evolving industry and remain competitive. They can also expand your creative practice in fulfilling ways.

Short training courses (online or in person) can advance your skills. These are called ‘microcredentials’ with many offering certification. Professional development lectures or courses can build our business skills and help expand our networks. Arts extension programs can provide intellectual and creative stimulation in areas of practice that can inform our own.

Don’t forget the APDG’s Dialogues in Design! A wonderful place to hear Australian designers and creatives talk about their work.


An award nomination or win can be a great confidence boost and may make a difference to how your work is noticed and future work prospects. Industry award events are also a great way to network and share your professional experiences with your peers. Awards can be a way of measuring your professional standing against your peers.

Here are some design-relevant awards:


The APDG makes its best efforts to make sure all information we post is correct, however Members use this information at their own risk. It is up to each individual to research the validity of resources they use. The APDG accepts no responsibility for information given in external links. Tips and services listed in this resource have been recommended by APDG designers, however their listing in this resource should not be construed as an endorsement by the APDG.