How can I build my network of UX professionals? UX Question #71

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Jaime from Los Angeles asks: How can I build my network of UX professionals?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Jaime. This is UX Question number 71 and I am Ben Judy.

How can I build my network of UX professionals? This is a favorite question of mine because I mentor lots of folks coming into UX and looking for their first job. Networking is possibly the most important thing you can do to position yourself to land a job in the UX career field, both near term and long term.

This is because networking is essentially about earning trust. When we talk about building your professional network, we’re really saying you’re growing the number of fellow professionals who know you and trust that you will do a good job and be a good team member.

Building trust takes time, of course. Don’t think of handing your business card to someone or sharing your LinkedIn profile and instantly earning trust and recognition as a professional.

But there are tactics you can use to begin networking and earning trust today.

Start with who you know—family, friends, former coworkers. Second and third degree connections. Tell everyone that you’re in UX and what kind of role you’re looking for.

Participate in UX events—conferences, meetups, and so forth—both in person and online. Engage people in conversation, do not just passively ‘attend.’

Go to job fairs and career networking events. Meet folks and follow up afterward with an email or phone call.

Do freelance projects. Ask clients for intros to their professional peers and friends.

Strike up conversations online in UX Slack and Discord communities, message boards, and social channels. Comment back, be active. Use your real name, not some fake profile name.

Now, in all of this interaction with people, what should you communicate?

The role you’re looking for.

The work environment and kind of employer you’re looking for. Size of company, industry, maturity of design practice, et cetera—if you have preferences or constraints for these things.

Are you looking for full time, regular employment with benefits? Or are you open to contracting or temp work?

Be sure to share your LinkedIn profile and portfolio site. Ideally, all this networking will end up connecting you with a recruiter, and they will want to see those things.

People sometimes don’t know where to begin with professional networking. Hopefully what I’ve just shared gives you some ideas, and some new tactics to try.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What is POUR?

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