Photo by Helena Lopes
The demand for experienced UX designers has made jobs for junior UX designers even harder than ever before. You need a job to get the experience, but the experience to get a job.
Applying online is tough because it can take weeks to get a reply and in some instances, you never hear back. Whether you are studying UX design or looking for new opportunities, it is so essential to make networking the foundation of your career.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you” Dale Carnegie
Business is about people. Ask anyone in the industry where they get most of their new business requests from, and it’s from word-of-mouth referrals. The process of referrals increases your chances of getting an interview, so start building relationships, connect with your favourite designers and attend networking events (even you introverts out there– you cannot avoid people)
But how do you get the most of networking? How do you leave an honest impression? And how you get people to admire you? We have gathered 12 tips that will help you become a great networker.
Have an interest in what other people have to say
When you have the moment to chat with like-minded enthusiasts make sure you show interest in them (this isn’t an opportunity to talk about yourself). Ask lots of questions, listen to what they say and react respectively.
People will love your enthusiasm towards them and will acknowledge how well you engage and want the learn.
Tip: Say their name! This is the utmost respect says Dale Carnegie, author of How to win friends and influence people.
Find your heroes and connect with them
We all inspire to be like someone, whether it’s a designer, agency, or company you’d like to work with (perhaps it’s us). Connect with them and start stalking – listen to their thoughts and engage in their work.
Don’t be afraid, most people in the industry are quite approachable and happy to give advice. If you happen to be in the same area, build up some courage and ask to chat over a coffee. The worst thing that can happen is no reply, but eventually, your name will ring a bell.
Go to meetups
There are no excuses for not attending at least one meetup; chances are you’ll be able to find an event to suit you within travel distance. The majority of creatives are a social bunch so you will have no trouble if you’re going alone – its good to be out your comfort zone.
Don’t forget. Focus on the other person, ask lots of questions and be genuinely engaged in what they have to say – even if they’re not your cup of tea (that might change in future).
Ask open-ended questions
The simplest way to keep the other person talking and relishing you is to ask the right kind of open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions demand more than a yes or no answer and show that you are engaged in the other person. These types of questions help to create and maintain rapport.
“What made you decide to go into UX?”
“How did you get your start in the UX world?”
People like to tell their story. Give them that opportunity while you listen attentively, and they’ll love you.
While developing and maintaining friendships takes time and effort, right friends can:
Help you to reach your goals. Whether you’re trying to build your career, looking to be more social, support from a friend can boost your willpower and increase your chances of success.
Improve your mood. Filling time with like-minded and positive people can elevate your mood and boost your chances.
Never expect anything in return
You should give without expecting anything in return; networking is about building relationships and not about what people owe you. Allow people to tell their story without feeling the need to share your own. Share some valuable information even if you’re chatting with your competitor– generosity goes a long way.
“The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tonnes of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person’s needs ahead of their own” Bob Burg
Spot the differences
There will be UX designers out there who produce work in a different field to yours. (Interaction design, UX research, UI design or perhaps IOS Developer). Don’t worry; it could be an excellent opportunity for collaboration in future projects. Build your relationship and connect with them on social channels.
Sell yourself without selling
You can only really sell yourself by becoming someone of value. What area of UX are you mad about? What valuable information can you share with people? How can you influence people with your knowledge?
If you are someone of value, you can quickly sell yourself at networking events without any mention of your business. People admire valuable, interest people and they will enjoy chatting with you.
Learn to listen
A good networker spends more time listening to a conversation and learning as much about their new contact as possible. Ask questions, listen, and engage, treat the experience as an opportunity to discover something new.
Tip: Don’t spend the time talking about yourself– you already know it all. Instead, spend your time asking them questions. It’s astonishing how much you’ll discover.
Set goals for your meetups
Networking can be a relatively time-consuming process especially if you don’t know what you’re looking to take away from it. Do your homework, write down what you would like to learn and think of some valuable questions to ask.
It would be great to chat with everyone who attends the network event, but that’s entirely unrealistic, so it’s important to focus your efforts on the people most likely to help you.
Remember to follow up
Networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. Don’t leave an event empty-handed, ask people you have engaged with to stay in touch. Some people prefer email or LinkedIn, but it would be great to connect with them on social channels too. This supports on-going interaction and keeps you updated on what other people are doing.
Get in contact within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and reference something you discussed, so your connection recognises you.
In a room full of new faces it’s entirely reasonable for nerves to take over. However, as a rule of engagement smiling will not only put your nerves at ease but will help you come across as warm and inviting to others.
Being friendly will also help those others who are nervous and give you a chance to start building relationships with like-minded individuals. After all were there to make a positive impression so keep in mind, you want to be someone people like, remember and – most importantly – recommend to others.