One of the most important things you can do to advance your career as a UI/UX designer is to build a network. You might be unsure how to get started, but networking isn't as difficult as it appears. Even if you're just getting started, you're already a part of a network. The next step is to learn how to effectively expand, maintain, and use it.
A professional network like a UI/UX designing network is a group of people connected for professional or business reasons. Members of your network, known as contacts or connections, can share information such as, but not limited to, job leads. They may also assist you in resolving work-related issues, recommending vendors and suppliers, and providing information about potential employers, employees, and clients.
Understanding the power of networking
According to a statistic by Zippia career experts, 79% of professionals think networking is important for professional success. This means that most people are awe of the benefits of networking, whether it be online or in person. They also discovered that 78% of startups are successful because of networking. So, for entrepreneurs as well, networking is essential, and online networking is particularly popular.
The actual benefit of networking as a UI/UX designer is that it enables you to create a network of peers from whom you may learn, receive counsel from, and draw inspiration. You gain first-hand knowledge of the UX industry, which enables you to stay up to date with industry developments and consistently improve your abilities.
A strong professional network can assist you to progress your career in a variety of other ways in addition to helping you locate leads when you are job-looking. Just a few of them are as follows;
Your contacts can help you learn about your chosen career when starting out. Researching the professions, you are thinking about is crucial while making a career decision. While there are resources to help you consider your possibilities, one of the greatest ways to learn more about a field is to speak with someone who is already employed in it. You might ask your network for assistance in setting up interviews as well.
When you have an interview lined up from a member of your network, they can also help you get to know a potential employer. Always do your homework before a job interview to learn more about the potential employer. Speaking with people in your network and their contacts will teach you a lot.
If you are a business person, your contact can help you get ready to pitch clients, if you need to research a potential customer. You just have to remember to exercise caution when disclosing private information to people outside of your company.
If you are in charge of hiring, your contacts can connect you with potential employees. Additionally, you can discover information about candidates before the meeting.
Are you hesitant to take on a professional project with which you are unfamiliar? Someone in your network who has completed a comparable task before might be able to provide you guidance or connect you with someone who can. One word of advice: don't divulge sensitive information.
Who are the members of your network?
As long as they are trustworthy, practically everyone you've ever met can be a part of your network. Just avoid having someone else's activities damage your reputation since guilt by association is a real thing. Your contacts can potentially lead to new people. Here are a few ideas on whom to start networking with:
Present and Past Coworkers: Make connections with both those you are currently working with and those you have previously.
Fellow Professionals in Associations: Introduce yourself to other attendees at conferences or events that are held by professional associations. Create business cards with your non-work contact details and bring them along. Participate actively by joining a committee, for instance. Potential contacts will be able to observe you in action.
Family and Friends: Be sure to inform them about your professional aspirations. You might never know who would be able to assist you. A recruiter in your industry could be the cousin of your brother-in-law's uncle.
Former Instructors and Professors: Your professional network should include the instructors at your college or university, particularly those who taught courses related to your major.
Old schoolmates: For potential links, look through the college or university's alumni directory. If you were a member of a fraternity or sorority, look there as well.
Building and maintaining your professional network
When you have your initial contacts from people primarily related to you, then you build and maintain. Building and maintaining a professional network is an important aspect of career development. Here are some tips to help you start building and maintaining your network;
Always reach out to connections on social media but particularly LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with professionals in your industry. Reach out to people you have worked with in the past, classmates from school, or people you have met at industry events.
Attending industry events is a great way to meet new people and learn about the latest trends in your field. Look for events that are relevant to your industry and try to attend at least a few each year. Joining professional organizations is another way to connect with people in your industry. Many organizations have local chapters that hold regular meetings, which are a great opportunity to meet and network with other professionals.
Never use your network as a stale reference resource that you keep on a shelf and only consult when you need to search for something up. It needs to be taken care of because it is a living thing. The last thing you want to happen is for a contact you have to reach out to not remember you or for you to pass up a fantastic chance because the person you know about it doesn't think of you.
Make preparations to meet up with any acquaintances you have or have had a personal relationship with, such as past coworkers. Make sure there is a standing invitation to meet up with them if they visit your city or you visit theirs if they are not nearby. A couple times a year, get in touch. Sending a card or email around the holidays is ideal. When you experience a shift, such as beginning a new work or receiving a promotion, reach out as well.
How to network effectively
Networking effectively involves making a great first impression, building genuine connections, and following up with the people you meet. Here are some strategies to help you network effectively:
Make a great first impression: First impressions are important, so make sure you are well-groomed and dressed professionally. Be prepared to introduce yourself and have a few conversation starters in mind.
Ask for help and informational interviews: Don't be afraid to ask for help or to request informational interviews with people in your industry. These can be great opportunities to learn more about a specific field or company and to make connections.
Follow up: Follow up with the people you meet by sending an email or LinkedIn message. Let them know it was nice to meet them and mention something specific you talked about.
Make the most of your professional relationships: Once you have established a connection, make sure to keep in touch. Attend industry events together, or arrange to have coffee or lunch.
Be authentic: Authenticity is key when networking. Be genuine in your interactions and don't try to be someone you're not. People can tell when you're not being authentic, and it's hard to build a genuine connection with someone who's being insincere.
Give before you get: Networking should not be only about what you can get from others. Instead, think about how you can help the people you are connecting with. Show a genuine interest in their goals and offer your help when you can.
Remember that building a professional network takes time and effort, but it can pay off in the long run-in terms of career growth and opportunities. Job Hopping is only going to make your progress slower and this is a common issue among creatives like UI/UX designers. Job hopping can limit the opportunity for personal and professional growth because each time a person switches jobs, they typically have to start from scratch in terms of learning the company culture, building relationships with colleagues, and gaining experience in new areas.
This constant change can make it difficult for individuals to develop a strong and comprehensive portfolio that showcases their skills and accomplishments. Additionally, employers may view job hoppers as lacking commitment and stability, which can impact their chances of being hired or promoted. Staying in one job for an extended period of time can provide more opportunities for growth and development, as well as the ability to build a stronger and more diverse portfolio.
Networking in the Digital Age
Networking in the digital age can be a powerful tool for expanding your professional network, especially as a UI/UX Designer. Here are some benefits of utilizing digital tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms:
Reach a larger audience: Digital tools allow you to connect with people from all over the world, expanding your network beyond your immediate geographic area.
Find job opportunities: Social media platforms like LinkedIn have job boards where you can find job openings and apply directly. You can also use these platforms to research companies and connect with people who work there.
Connect with industry leaders: Digital tools make it easy to follow and connect with industry leaders. You can learn from their insights and experiences, and potentially even connect with them directly.
Stay informed: Social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways to stay informed about the latest industry news and trends.
Here are some tips for leveraging these platforms to find job opportunities and connect with industry leaders:
Optimize your profile: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and tailored to your industry. Include a professional photo, a detailed summary, and relevant skills and experience.
Build your brand: Use social media platforms to build your personal brand by consistently posting relevant, valuable content and engaging with others in your industry.
Connect with people in your industry: Seek out and connect with people in your industry on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms. You can also join LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats to connect with like-minded professionals.
Follow industry leaders: Follow industry leaders on social media and engage with their content. Share their posts, comment on their articles, and reach out to them directly if you have something relevant and valuable to say.
Be consistent and authentic: Building a professional network takes time and effort, so be consistent in your engagement and be authentic in your interactions. Avoid spamming or hard selling, instead, focus on building genuine connections.
Overall, digital tools can be a great way to expand your professional network, but remember that they are just one piece of the puzzle. Combining digital tools with in-person networking can help you build a more comprehensive and well-rounded professional network.
Networking is not just about collecting business cards or sending out friend requests on LinkedIn. It's about building genuine connections and relationships with people who can help you achieve your goals. By following the tips outlined in this article, you'll be well on your way to landing your dream job and creating a strong, supportive network of contacts. Remember, networking is a marathon, not a sprint, so be patient, stay persistent and always be yourself.
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