Connecting with other designers totally pushed my career to another level. During my transition, I couldn't find any designers locally. One reason for this scarcity was: (1) Not knowing where to look and (2) UX wasn't a very popular career choice in Miami. There were times where I met designers at local meetups, through work events, and local conferences. If they didn't live in Miami, I would cultivate our relationship by following their content online (i.e. Signing up for their newsletter, follow their LinkedIn post, Twitter/Instagram, comment frequently, etc.). Whenever I would visit their city, I would always let them know I was in town and offered them lunch when they had down time. If the individuals I met lived in Miami, I would use proximity to my advantage. I would try to meet up with at least one person in my network per week via lunch dates, coffee, meetup hopping, and by requesting conference buddies (Who wants to go to conferences alone!). It takes time and patience to cultivate relationships. Don't rush it! Enjoy their time, show gratitude, and genuinely get to know the person.
Networking is critical regardless of what your career is. Many times, we don’t get jobs because we are gifted or qualified; we get jobs because of our network. Your personal network is the gold glue that keeps your career in tack. That gold glue will present opportunities to you before those opportunities make their way onto public forums or job boards. You're able to win with less competition and a personal reference. Keep these connection healthy and cultivate them whenever you can.
Last thing, don't be bougie! You don't have to focus only on meeting designers. Most of my design friends were basically referrals. I met them through individuals who weren't designers at all. These people can be developers, VPs of companies, city mayors, city advocates, etc.
Surround yourself with the
dreamers, the doers, the believers,
and the thinkers, but most of all,
surround yourself with those who
see greatness in you.
Here are ways to connect with other UX Professionals: