Valuing Your Design Community
Do you interact within the design community? Better yet, why do you interact with the design community?
A while back I wrote an article about valuing your design, in this article we talked about taking certain steps to improve our personal fulfillment and the creative value of our projects.
So as a follow up this article will take the same approach to our interaction with the design community and discuss way that we can improve the value of our deign community interaction.
With the many different means of interaction for designers we have an awesome opportunity to connect with designers all over the world. As I thought about this concept and how I interact with the design community I realized that the value and benefit of being a part of this community could very easily be taken advantage of.
Lets look at twitter for example, the more people I interact with the further my reach goes. So it can be very easy to focus on getting more followers to re-tweet my articles in an effort to drive more traffic to my site.
Interacting with people on twitter, and having people retweet your articles is not a bad thing, but it is the benefit of building a relationship, and should not be a means to an end.
If your sole purpose for interacting with the design community is to promote yourself… you are broken, or maybe better said…
Community… ur doing it wrong
I would imagine that it is within most of our aspirations to make something for ourselves and accomplish creative, and career goals. So no matter how we look at it there is a level of self-promotion involved, there is definitely a time and a place for that. If we do community right we will see that we gain a value that is more fulfilling, and productive than self -promotion alone.
So what are the benefits, and how do we interact within the design community in a way that benefits us as well as others? Here are a four points to consider.
Creatives need friends too-
No matter what we say about being independent, or shy when it comes to interaction with other people, the truth is we need friends, and acquaintances to interact with that we have something in common with.
In the design world our work and frustrations are often misunderstood by those outside of the community, simply due to the nature of creative work. That being said it will lend to better personal fulfillment to build relationships with other designers.
As we interact within the community and build relationships we will also build a great resource for support, feedback, and collaboration, these are the results that we should be looking for more that just more face time, and traffic to our blog/site.
Be the interaction you want to receive-
It has been said that “it is better to give than to receive”, and this principle is at the foundation of quality community interaction. This sheds some light on the definition “Community is helping each other get to places we can’t reach on our own.”
We will start to receive the interaction and feedback we want for ourselves when we make that the standard for the interaction we offer to others. So if you feel you aren’t getting the interaction you would like from the design community, write down the main things you would like to see improve and then start being that to others in the community, if you are already doing that then keep being consistent and interacting… it will happen.
Be YOU, and establish YOUR personal brand-
There can be a lot of pressure to live up to others standards especially in the design community. Part of interacting within the community is being you, your experiences, knowledge, and skills are unique to you, and no one else can offer them because they are yours.
So be yourself, build your personal brand, and don’t try to be the next Jeff Zeldman, or Gary V. We already have those guys and they rule, but what we need is you. What I have noticed in my interaction is that other designers are looking for like-minded designers, and devs that they can relate to, and even interact with on a daily basis (via skype, twitter, friendfeed, etc.).
Get out from behind the computer-
You heard that correctly… get out from behind the computer and go to some meet up and network/interact with other designers in your community. Use tools like Nearby Tweets to find other designers in your area and connect. Check and see if there are local meet ups, and if not start one.
This can be dependent on where you live, as there may not be designers in your immediate area… but if you search you will probably find something within 30 minutes of driving. At our recent collekt meet up we had two people drive over an hour from LA to connect!
The interaction is out there; if we just look a bit harder we can find it!
So wrapping things up… yes interacting in the design community will help get out your name out there, and build your personal brand… but more importantly it will allow you to give back which is more rewarding, and I will go out on a limb and say that people will support/promote those they have interacted with, and share/agree with their vision and approach to design/creativity.
Here are some places that you can connect with other creatives in a community setting
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic… Am I crazy… right on… what is your approach to design community interaction… and how have you found ways to connect?