Joining any kind of professional design community can bring a number of benefits to the members who participate in them. From meeting other designers in your area or being the first to know about a job availability, design communities can be a great place for professionals at all levels of their career.
Getting the Most out of Your Design Community
But what you get out of a design community depends on what you put into it. If you simply join a design community but don’t participate in the events or conversations, your design business won’t grow by very much. To get the most out of your design community, here are a few tips to follow:
1. Do Your Research
If you know you want you join a design community but you’re not sure which is the right fit for you, spend some time doing research. Consider what factors are the most important to you and look for a design community that fits your needs.
For example, if meeting other local designers is key, look for a local design community or a community with local subgroups. If you’re more interested in connecting with designers all over the country or even the world, look for an online community that can put you in touch. With so many different kinds of design communities available, there is sure to be one that fits your unique needs.
2. Introduce Yourself
After you’ve found the right community, let the other members know who you are. Whether it is on a public forum, at the next in-person meeting or just by sending out a message on social media or through email, introducing yourself can let the other members know who you are and what you do.
Introducing yourself to the group will also make it easier to jump into the networking and events the community provides. After you’ve already broken the ice and put yourself out there, it will feel more natural commenting on other member’s posts or asking questions of your own.
3. Stay Active
There is no point in being a part of a professional network if you are not active within your community. When you look around your community, you may start to notice that many of the same individuals are asking questions, answering questions, attending events and posting about job offers. These are the individuals who are getting the most benefit from the experience.
When entering the community, it can be a bit scary to post your first question or ask if anyone knows of an available job. But this networking and assistance is the whole point of being a part of a design community. Stay active and post frequently.
4. Attend Events
Not all communities will offer in-person events, but if you’re part of a local community or a national community with local pods that does, you will want to consider attending. While the Internet makes it easy to connect and engage with other members of the community, it can’t replace the relationships you can build by meeting someone in person.
Attending events will also help you put a face to the name of other members, and they can connect your face to your name as well. When you can build relationships from individuals you meet in real life, they will be more likely to think of you when a job appears, or they can become a go-to source when you need advice or a mentor.
5. Expand Your Brand
As a designer, you are unique. You have your own processes, views and systems for creating your designs and projects. This means you naturally have your own brand. However, to be a successful designer, you need to grow that brand to truly represent who you are and what you do.
Being a part of a design community puts you in contact with dozens of other designers who have been exactly where you are. They know what you need to do to move forward and what your brand is lacking. Use these connections and relationships to ask for guidance in expanding and building your brand.
6. Listen to Other Designers
While being a part of a community is beneficial for you and your brand, you should also look at the value you can provide to other designers. Each designer will have a unique set of experiences and perspectives. Even if you haven’t been designing for long, don’t feel like you can’t contribute your own thoughts or opinions.
Talking with other designers about their business will also help you understand the different kinds of design businesses or projects out there. If you’re only exposed to the business you know, you can’t grow into other areas or learn different techniques. Be sure to connect with all the other members of the community, even if you feel like you don’t have much in common.
Joining a design community can bring many different benefits to the members who want to take advantage of them, but simply joining isn’t enough to boost your design career. If you are considering becoming a design community member, you’re in store for great networking events, an easy way to build business relationships and exposure to new kinds of design and different projects.
A design community is not anything to be afraid of. If you’re ready to boost your design business and are serious about your work, a design community can be one of the best resources for you. Find the community that fits your needs and register today!
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.