As an Interactive Media Designer I often get the question "So Interactive Media…. what exactly do you do?" Up until about 2 years ago I would direct people to various examples of my work on the internet or try in varying degrees of success to tell them what it is I do. Then I did what all tech savvy, geeked out, people in the design field did. I bought an iPhone. The iPhone has revolutionized the way I share my work with people away from a computer. From storing my T-shirt designs in my Photo Library to keeping iPhone compatible versions of my motion graphics projects in my iPod feature, I try to utilize every aspect of the iPhone to turn it into my own mobile portfolio. The biggest upside? It's with me all the time. Even at the bar where I just ran into a business owner who is unhappy with her website's design and functionality and is looking to make a switch.
I've never met another designer that has taken the time to set up their iPhone to make it work for them. In fact, if you're in graphic design, web design or motion graphics and you have an iPhone and you aren't using it as a personal portfolio and sales piece you are out of your mind. Personal devices like the iPhone that allow you to keep examples of your work at the touch of a finger are going to set you apart from the designer with only a business card that likely gets logged away in a wallet.
I personally keep my phone branded and positioned to sell my services as a designer, screen printer, and motion graphics animator. I usually have between 3 and 4 wallpaper images that I optimize for display on the iPhone. I can cycle through these images depending on where I'll be and to whom I'll be talking to. That sets the stage. Then I keep a log of all the shirts I have designed, (whether they get printed or not), logo's, website comps, and flyers in my Photo Library. This way if I meet someone who is interested in having a run of hoodies or T-shirts done I have a visual example of what Gryphen Graphics is capable of. I also keep my pricing guide on mobile.me as a .pdf so I can quickly and accurately give them a quote. Next I make sure to have all apps related to the services that Bonsai Media Group offers. Facebook mobile, TweetDeck, YouTube, and Safari usually suffice. This way When I run into the owner of the new bar down the street and get to talking about how he can use SEO, Social Media Marketing, and effective Web Design to drive local business to his bar, I have access to these apps and can demonstrate to him how it's done. Finally when I meet the business man who simply isn't impressed with static images of t-shirts and logo design I open the iPod feature of the iPhone to Videos and show him one of my motion graphics pieces which showcases the versatility and capability of Bonsai Media Group.
When I bought the iPhone the first week it came out, I knew that it would primarily deal with software upgrades not hardware. In fact it hasn't changed much from what I call the "OG" (1st generation iPhone) to the 3G and 3GS except for the metal casing, which I favor over the latter. The nice thing about the iPhone is when the next one comes out you are not going to have to re-size, re-export or re-encode your files. Once you've got your mobile portfolio library built and optimized it's simply a matter of updating and adding new work.
These are just 3 examples of ways that you can take casual conversation about your career and transition into the networking side of business just by being prepared to show somebody what exactly it is you do. I would strongly suggest putting in the time to design yourself a great looking business card and please, spend the money to have them done right. Even more impressive after a brief portfolio tour of your work is a business card that they can take with them that they will remember. It's all about separating yourself from the pack, finding your zag and I believe this can be a great compliment to any conversation a designer will have concerning the work they produce.
Please feel free to ask questions, there are many ideas behind this strategy that I haven't thought of and for the better of the graphic design community we should hurl our thoughts, ideas and questions into the design-o-sphere.