;

Network.

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Welcome to the seventh article of this series that focuses on designers in the team of one. After diving deep into more internal ambition, beliefs and philosophy, we have passed through communication, technology and operation to see how the inner world translates through our practical day-to-day contribution. In the last three articles, we’ll look at the Network effect, management, and how you Scale your company of one. 

This article aims to look at the two aspects of the network effect in design-related environments and how young (or an external designer) can reach the desired recognition in their (even remote) teams. This paradigm may need a more detailed explanation as it looks at two sides of the same challenge. A – how do the designers get recognised at all? Recruiters, companies, HR, procurement departments and so on. And B – how do you get recognised in the team you are working on, whether you are a new or an existing member looking for a career change, let alone an upgrade? 

Before creating Network

Whether you are looking for work or aiming to make yourself a name in an existing product design development team, you need to be recognised. You need to own something that you are recognised for – not a pretty face, but a topic or domain of your own. Let’s face it: if you are just starting, it’ll be hard. Your passion drives you; therefore, you are more vulnerable to being exploited for your weaknesses. That’s why majority of graduates and design apprentices relate to advice from a recruiter rather than asking their colleagues with 20+ years of knowledge in the industry. 

Owning the topic means – for example, “I’m passionate about interaction design”, which narrows down the exciting tools and outputs people will respect you to know and further master the topic.
For existing designers, updating their careers is often the same challenge. If you ask your colleagues what you are good at (and if they answer frankly and honestly – you might find your passion). Essentially, these will be the things we’ll focus on being recognised for.
One more thing before we start: you can not be a Researcher, UX-er or brand designer at the same time; that is simply not possible, and I’m afraid this article is not for you.

Team as a Network

Ok, we now have an interaction designer who aims to become the greatest interaction designer of all time and find the role after graduation. 

First and foremost, there is already at least a hundred great interaction designers out here. Let’s find their accounts and connect with them 50%, the best in the industry, and 50% from your city or country. This will give you a team of collaborators with whom you can bounce your ideas and learn from their mistakes.  

What to communicate.

Essentially, you are learning that being humble is always a good start. Connect with others and let them know you are learning. You’ll be surprised how much (at least some) designer loves to talk about their journey. And those who do ask them for a collaboration – offer a day of free work if you wish (more about free work later) to learn. This group is your library, knowledgebase, and evolving organism; treat it with respect, as this source will soon become your audience. Everything you learn, tell them how you have done it and what impact it has made. Promote their work, articles they share or opinions they are fighting for – professionally.
I’d personally avoid any discussion about tooling. Over the last 30 years, discussions have been exactly the same, with one difference: the software evolved. Someone likes it; someone hate’s it – what is the point, then? 

Now, let’s look at different messaging. Professional = LinkedIn. In DaS™ Academy – courses, I teach that CV is the past and Portfolio (the Hub) is the future. If that’s the case, your CV represents what you have achieved. LinkedIn shows potential companies that you are connected with like-minded professionals and contributing to the design community. 

How to communicate 

All in the life come with a sacrifice. This will take time, and you need to understand that doing something halfway means not doing it at all. The network effect only works if people in that network know you are there.

As the sales department makes 100 calls a day, you make hundreds interaction. Can you automate it, optimise it, or make it better? That is where you learn how to communicate efficiently.

A genuine response is better than a like on a post that has 3,000 likes. The response to the problem, even the one that might not be 100% accurate, is still better than writing an opinion. Find a writer you like and create your writing style – another skill that has tremendous impact on your overall personal development. 

Understand that each medium will have a different tone. Commenting on someone's animated transition of the logo to the landing screen is perhaps better to leave in the design layer than talking about the timing and scripting. Where in fact Twitter will probably suits more technically led discussion than Instagram and so on.

Lastly, professionally, take the opportunity to write a 500-word learning piece on Linked In and publish it. What have you learned in the industry? Portfolios' personal websites come and go; your learning path stays on LinkedIn. 

How often 

Recently, I read an article in my favourite Japanese magazine and found out that there is a girl in Fukuoka who has 3000 Instagram posts a day – well, it’s a bit too much, don’t you think? Gery W. says that you are five posts a day away from your dream career on social channels are the bridge you build. Creating a meaningful story takes time and practice. I’d see it more like one a day with a message, your visual style, story and learning. There is an initiative called Drawing a day to learn how to draw. Think of it as one post a day for your career – that does not sound too bad, or does it?

This applies to all designers in all stages of their careers and transition between roles. With the use of AI and automation, you are right on the beginning of becoming a superstar. 

Why

There is no need to create a network to get the job. However, one of the greatest jobs you get is through your colleagues and people who know what you do and how you do it. No recruiters, no email ping pong, no begging, no call for helpless. If you find your niche and post it regularly, greatness happens, and who knows, one day, you’ll be offering advice to other makers in the industry. Stay a maker/doer and design a better world.      

Write Your Own Story
Write Your Own Story

Please join me for the series Design at Scale Academy for more stories that build new you.

Tagged: agile · coaching · collaboration · cx · dastm · design · designatscale · designer2designer · framework · madebyhuman · management · mentoring · Method · organisations · process · scale · sme · startup · ux · ways_of_working
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