Professional Networks & Building Your Community

Are you a part of any professional networking groups that excite you and energize you about your field of work or areas of interest?

I love networking and professional groups in particular because they are such a great resource for meeting those with similar interests, making new friends, learning more about your particular field and they can take place in a range of venues and spaces!

One of my last events for instance, was held at Axle Brewing Company in Ferndale. They have nice large tables and a great patio so it’s for moving around and chatting with others in a friendly setting.

To share a bit about myself, my day job is as a Product Designer. This means that my goal is to observe people interacting with a specific product or piece of technology and to design and optimize that technology so that the user can have the best experience. This field is known by many names but to keep this post on the shorter side, I’m going to refer to it as, User Experience (UX) Design.

To help me meet others in my field I decided to join the networking group, Ladies That UX.   Last week, I co-hosted a low key happy hour at this really neat restaurant called Red Dunn Kitchen. It was such a good time and all we did was geek out and chat about what was happening in the UX realm within our city. It’s become a community where we support one another, discuss a range of topics, mentor each other, ask questions, play creative games and share the latest tools & tricks.IMG_0604Professional networking groups are so valuable and they have helped me to form a community that has made me feel more confident in my ability and skill set. I joined LTUX a few years back & decided to become an officer and co-organizer for our local chapter so that I could not only help further evangelize UX but to also recruit others and to contribute to growing the community locally.

I will admit that attending networking events at times can feel a bit scary at first. I almost always went to these events by myself and I found it somewhat intimidating to be there and meeting such well-established professionals who had been in the industry for some time while I was just getting my start.

What I quickly learned, however, was that people are far more approachable than one might think. Especially at a networking event!! The whole purpose of these events is to step out,  speak to others, introduce yourself and learn a little bit about each other, your fields and seeing where you sync and could potentially collaborate in the future.

Now I know there is more to it, but that’s for a different time. The focus here is more on taking initiatives to make a connection and exploring different ways to create your community.  Or, if that group doesn’t seem to fit, then shop around until you find one that better fits you and then get involved.

Thankfully there are a plethora of networking groups that support the whole gambit of career paths so I encourage you to get out there and explore one that fits you.

So my challenge for you today as we continue on our friendship & community building journey is to get plugged into professional networking groups! They are so valuable!

I found my group through Meetup.com but all of these professional organizations have websites so feel free to join directly through that as well and then keep an eye on their events page! AND if you can, join multiples in the same field and diversify by joining ones in nearby cities so that you can expand your network even more!!

Then once you’ve got a network established, share that with your peers and others whom you know may benefit from your connections. There is great power in knowing someone who knows someone. So if using those connections could help others and even yourself pursue personal or professional goals, let’s share those relationships and help each other grow.

Talk soon!

Alicia

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