How to turn your IID membership into a lottery ticket for business

Has this ever happened to you? Last year in January, I decided to join a gym.
I was going to lose weight, get fit, build my strength, and it’s all going to happen because I’d joined the best gym in my area. I started strong, woke up at 5 every day. One morning I woke up with a cold. I had to skip that day.
The following week I needed to skip 2 days because I had some important meetings and needed to keep my energy up. Not long after that, I suffered a bout of insomnia and decided to lie in as long as possible.
Before I knew it, I hadn’t visited the gym in 4 months. Yet, I was  paying my membership fees every 4 weeks, loyal as clockwork.
What did I have to show?
What value did I receive for my money?
I received the potential to get healthy, strong, and fit. How I used that potential would tell me what value I received in return.
The no-sweat formula to growing your business in the IID
Just like the gym, your IID membership gives you the potential to take your business higher and increase your profits. Just like a gym membership, you can only gain benefits if you’re using the service you’re paying for.
Here are 6 tips on getting the most out of your membership with the IID to grow your business in the creative world.
Get active and take part at events.
The IID is a platform for designers, decorators, and architects to collaborate.
Events that are educational are a great opportunity to grow your skills. If you’re already familiar with the subject matter, participate by volunteering at the events.
Being seen and heard is what it’s all about. Your presence at these events will provide your business with valuable exposure.
Share and gain inspiration
Being in the creative industry can often leave you feeling like you’re following the same template in your designs. You get stuck on one look that works. No one has really noticed but it’s starting to worry you a little because you know you’re in a creative rut.
Members of the IID have the opportunity to share ideas and draw on each other’s inspiration.
More than sharing ideas, the IID hosts workshops and events offered by industry-professionals. These events will keep you updated on the latest innovations, trends, and ideas. Attracting new clients means keeping your work fresh and inspired.
Prepare a blurb about yourself and your business
You’re at an event, and someone asks you about your business. As you launch into your story you wonder what the next person will say about their business.
What makes you different?
Can the next person claim to offer everything you mentioned?
You don’t have to offer something that is so brilliant and unique that you blow all the other designers away. You need to make sure that what you say about your business is interesting. Memorable. Find a way to hold people’s attention while you’re talking to them.
Prepare a little speech in your head and memorise it. Don’t wing it. If you can, start with a little joke that relates to your business. It will act as an awesome ice breaker, allowing your new connection to relax in your presence.
Make connections outside of events too
You might find the events to be too busy to connect with individuals. In this case, exchange business cards and arrange later to meet over coffee.
Offer to help with any projects they’re running and take an interest in the way they do business. Refer work to these colleagues if you have a client you’re not able to take on at that time. In a nutshell, build a relationship of give and take.
Remember, you have to give business to get business.
This is an important part of building relationships in the design industry. You want a good reputation. Establishing that can be hard work, but remaining unknown in your industry can lead to having no work.
Be attentive at gatherings
When you are at an IID event, be there with your full attention.
Avoid using your phone during these events and avoid talking during presentations. Be attentive and show your keen interest. Take notes and think of ways in which you can contribute. If you come up with a new idea, it can put your business on the map!
Overcoming the time constraints
We’re all busy.
Life is fast-paced and business waits for no one.
The hard truth is that you have to schedule in the time to be able to grow your business.  Finding the time needed to take part in these events is a rule that all successful companies follow. All successful businesses make marketing and training part of their success plan.
Placing yourself in the position to grow your business means allocating some of your workloads on to others. Keeping yourself updated and connected to the industry is essential to your success. Who knew that running your own company would require you to be so social?
Put on your best shoes and join the dance. There’s business to be done!

About the author

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The African Institute of the Interior Design Professions (IID) is the only professional body representing the Interior Design industry in South Africa. It operates nationally with representation in GautengKwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern and Western Cape.

The Institute is dedicated to establishing, promoting and maintaining expertise, professionalism, sound business practice and high standards throughout the industry.

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