Networking in UX Design
My 5 thoughts on what it entails and why it matters
Learning alone and investing time into mastering the science is one thing, but as designers we are problem solvers. We don`t problem solve for ourselves, but for others as well, so how can we get the insights that we need without communication and networking?
Changing paradigms through design also means having the right opportunities and means to do so, we cannot do it alone behind the screen. How can you seize the moment when nobody told you the moment is happening?
My below words might seem very well-known to you, as some people already practice them. But I wanted to reinforce their benefits and share my view. Happy to hear your thoughts on the subject as well.
1. Get inspired by other`s stories — but not in the form you imagine
Go out there an find your tribe, use the Social platforms to your advantage: go on LinkedIn, look for other designers, get inspired by their journey. Aspire to the perfect project, or your dream company, follow their work.
Don’t just add person after person to your network just because their title says UX Designer, respect their journey, try to read their story between the lines. For me it`s encouraging to see people from various countries working abroad, it gives me the courage and hope that I can also make it. Or seeing people transitioning to the same field from something completely different, so I know I am not crazy doing this. Or people managing to get that dream job I thought I needed a lifetime of experience for, makes me put my game face on and start preparing for that interview. It`s inspiring, it motivates me to work 10x harder towards my goal, as I know it can be done: I have examples right in front of me.
2. Get that conversation going
Building a community of like-minded people can bring you a lot of satisfaction in the long run — one conversation around a subject can lead to a new problem you need to solve — or it can lead to more motivation by practicing healthy competition.
My father used to say you know you are in the right group when you feel the stupidest at the table — that translates into opportunities to learn and grow. Great start-ups have started with friends having a coffee or a glass of wine, dreams have started with confessions and solutions through active listening to what the problems are.
Join a group of like-minded people, either on Slack, social media, or in person, contribute to your community and start discussing. You don`t even know what you might find in the next line of dialogue. Or what opportunity might find you instead.
3. Follow your dream companies like you follow your favorite TV stars
That dream UX opportunity might be of course, in your dream company. If you want to revolutionize Home Banking next, or you want to create the perfect flying experience, find your next partner in crime by keeping an eye on the companies that have the power to do that, on the industry disruptors, raise your hand and ask them to join their efforts. They might just have the perfect spot for you.
More so, it
s good to be loyal, but dont get obsessed with only one or 2 companies. You might miss the fact that another one is working on that product you have always dreamed about working on and they are looking for Designers just like you.
Other companies and projects can also be a great source of inspiration about what`s out there. I was writing down some problems that I want to solve for my future projects and thought that some of them are either too crazy or that nobody would really want that problem solved, at least now. Looking at the work other companies did beforehand, I actually noticed the interest in those problems, translated into similar products that people love and can be scaled.
4. It`s a marathon, not a sprint
We are all guilty of checking our message or social media first thing when we wake up, the latest when we have our coffee. If we can`t get rid of a bad habit, might at least make it work to our advantage, right? How about we integrate the professional network into our routine as well?
Take some time each day to see what new opportunities are there, connect with people, share your thoughts on subjects you are passionate about. That doesn`t mean you should spend hours and hours commenting and getting into polemic discussions, but people will appreciate you sharing your thoughts honestly or a word of appreciation for their work.
Don't limit yourself to 1 or 2 days of massive socializing and then ghost everyone. Consistency is key in human relationships. personally, I met a lot of people throughout my life and career that I would have loved to talk more to, but I lost connection since I didn’t practice consistency. You will not end up with an unlimited number of friends and responding to thousands of messages every day, but you will stay connected.
5. Use it as a learning opportunity
You might have noticed by now if you started learning UX Design how much effort is behind and how constructive feedback can give you your needed creativity and motivation boost. You might have been stuck a couple of times already, started suffering from impostor syndrome, or you didn`t even know for sure if your work is good or bad.
Something that helped me a lot: put yourself and your work out there. Get a second opinion, new idea, rely on your network to give you that help you need to go further.