Networking with others in UX

Hey! Welcome to my first blog post, My name is Jade, I am a soon to be graduate student in Digital Media based at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay Campus. For my last year module, I volunteered to write a blog post on how to network with others related to my field of work.

Since studying design thinking and user experience (UX) in my second year, I have realised that user experience is my passion and a potential full-time job opportunity. After looking at various networking links, I chose to look into the ‘ Ladies that UX Bristol’ meet up group. Starting as a close-knit group in 2014, Ladies that UX Bristol has been running for 6 years and have over 650 members. Looking at the meetup website, the description stated that the group is for all levels of UX especially those who are eager to learn and listen to others’ experiences of being UXers.

Due to the current situation (Covid19) the meet up was a virtual fireside chat. Once joined into the Zoom meeting, the leaders of the group started to introduce themselves and explained what level of UX they are working at. With only around 8 members I soon realised that even though I had no professional work experience in UX, the group were very friendly and supportive of others who were interested in learning new skills. Going into this I was worried that due to my age and lack of knowledge in UX I would get lost in other members’ explanations. Each time a different method/ tool was mentioned, multiple women explained what they were used for, for the benefit of those who were inexperienced/new. I found this extremely helpful as well as warming to learn how supportive each member was.

“No two stories are the same”

Once the baton had been passed around it was now my turn to speak, after explaining my background of being a 3rd-year student at UWE, the women were amazed that we are actually taught UX within the module and expressed their excitement of how important UX is to them and how they each had a different introduction to working as a UXer. One member expressed how important the group is to them and described their monthly meet ups as feeling like “both educated, emotionally and an overall connected professional family”. As the hour went by I sat and listened to different women explain their experience in their job and how the pandemic changed their everyday work life as well as their home. One of the benefits I have learnt from my first networking experience is that everybody was once where you are standing now, therefore, you can ask as many questions on how you can start your journey into UX, like what would software would they recommend using and overall helpful tips and tricks that a beginner in UX would like to hear.

Whilst listening to the other UXers, I learnt about the tools and techniques they use in their everyday work-life such as Miro, From what I understood, Miro is an online visual collaborative tool which replicates the same function as a white board. Team members can share and communicate their work digitally through remote access without the need of any office space or physical white board. Multiple women in the group shared their love for the visual remote collaboration tool, one of the members praised the application as it made ‘ designing more flexible and easy to use’. Another tool/application they spoke about was Figma, Similar to Invision, Figma is a prototyping tool which allows you to share screens in realtime with other collaborators, making the workspace easier and more accessible for working as a team. Amongst the talk of application use we also spoke about other UX related things such as books and podcasts they favoured. The group was very friendly and informative, their advice took into consideration the costs of applications, as well as drawbacks I might face due to being a student.

“Learn the tools, courses and look around to see what’s the front runner in UX and play with it” 

By the end of the zoom call, I had completely forgotten that this was a task I set myself rather than a social gathering with some lovely strangers, who had the same enthusiasm and overall love as I do for UX. When I first looked at this task I was worried that I would be seen as another startup UXer who would fall behind those who are more experienced but really what I have learnt is that networking allows you to connect with other people in an open space, you are there to listen and share your own knowledge and experience in your work field whilst being surrounded by friendly supportive workers. I highly recommend the Ladies that UX Bristol for anyone who has an interest in UX, no matter what level you are at – beginner to advanced, there is always something you can learn and what better way to learn it through such a supportive and open community.

This was only my experience joining a networking group to do with UX there are many different networking groups available that you could join using the Meetup website. Meetup is a very good networking space which will allow you to connect with anyone with the same interest in the same area,  either social or work life.

Above is a link to a Meetup group which is based in Bristol, they are an open community who “ provide expert insight and thought-provoking discussions on how technology can improve our physical environment and battle the massive, urgent issue of climate change”

Here is a link for another Meetup group based in Bristol, for people who are interested in all things digital marketing based, The group is an informal space where people can learn and share their experiences with all things digital; “Social media, paid search, SEO, blogging, podcasting and much more”.

Thank you for reading my blog post, I hope this inspires you to have your own networking experience using Meetup. Networking is a great chance to socialise with other individuals either professionally or anyone who shares the same enthusiasm about your job interests.

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