Networking is working, whether you want it or not. This is a quote by Denise Morrison.
About 4 years ago I lived in Stockholm for about a year and I missed the opportunity to network with hundreds of people. I installed an app helping me to network, Meetup. But I deleted it shortly after, because I thought it is better to meet people face to face personally. It turned out that it doesn’t work in the digitalized city and the app helps you to find your target groups. Unfortunately I have to admit, that I have missed some really good possibilities.
“ Meetup helps people to find their interests and organize them. You can explore the city, build your career and get creative with the app. Above of all, it is almost a perfect app for networking.”
Networking with Meetup
A couple of years later, after my Master’s Thesis I reinstalled Meetup again because I was looking for a job and I wanted to hear other fellow designers' advices. UX & Product in Munich was one of the first Meetup’s groups I visited. I was amazed, that many UX-Designers visiting the event have diverse backgrounds. UX & Product Meetup was firstly created by Thomas Gläser (UX & Lean Innovation Consultant Freelancer) and Jan Korsanke (Senior UX Designer at ExB Research and Development) joined him shortly after as a supporter. Both have been successfully organizing 10 Meetups so far. I visited three of them and they are always inspiring. Usually there are 4 keynotes and you have the freedom to network with other people for 2 hours.
“ UX & Product Meetup focuses on inviting a broad variety of speakers to give inspiring talks and share their knowledge, because the founders Thomas and Jan believe in the mantra of “ sharing is caring”.”
Now I am going to number with one hand how to network successfully. I have learned it from my personal experience and from books. Are you ready?
- Don’t be an introvert — Move out from your comfort zone. Networking in front of display won’t get you far. You can connect people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and so on. They may be efficient but not real. You need to see people’s faces. It may be hard at first time but it gets easier with time. I keep writing the same sentence because it is true.
- Ask yourself — Find out which events suits you the best. Ask yourself. What do you want to achieve? Which is your target group? Is there a person you want to meet and to connect? Is the event interesting to you? And one important thing: Do you have time for it? You should be able to relax at the event without any time-pressure. There is nothing worse than looking nervously at your watch many times because of an upcoming appointment.
- Do research — Found your ideal event? Do some research on attendees you want to meet. Try to find more about the host (and the keynote speakers). I mostly find all the information on LinkedIn. Just looking up in other platforms also works. Find out who they are and what they are passionated about. It will be a great help for you if you do it. Networking is working. You won’t regret it believe me.
- At the event — Now you are there. Make yourself huge and feel good. It is going to work because people will coming to you because of your radiation. You are going to have a great time at the event, if you did some research and know about people’s background. Try to connect multiple interesting people at one time. Don’t be afraid to have a talk with a person. Try to remember the person’s name and use it often. It makes you more charming and interesting. Also remember that you are not alone and let others talk too. If it is not working, don’t sweat it. The person doesn’t know who you are and move to the next one.
- After the event — Write a follow-up email or message to people you met within 24 hours. In this way you can make sure that they don’t forget who you were. Most of all, stay in touch with your new contacts! I often forget it, because it is time-consuming. It is enough if you have a quick chat about the latest news you have heard or share new stories. Prioritize your contacts if you get overwhelmed by them.
Meetup is not a panacea. There are many other sources. Listen to your neighbors and friends about the upcoming events in your surroundings. There is also life outside your flickering displays because networking is a crucial part to be successful. It helps you gaining knowledge and widening connections. Remember, choose quality over quantity.