Networking and Beyond: How LinkedIn Can Benefit Product Designers of All Levels

Raluca Angelescu
April 3, 2023
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As a Product Designer, I've come to understand the importance of establishing a solid social presence, and LinkedIn is an excellent tool for accelerating this process. In this article, I'll guide you through some reasons why you should embrace LinkedIn, whether you're an seasoned Designer or someone who just started learning a week ago.

Create a Personal Brand

When we first think of a brand, our minds often jump to logos, fonts, and colors. But a brand encompasses much more than this. Your brand also includes the way you communicate, the tone of voice you use, and what you stand for. Your portfolio can do the talking when it comes to your professional life and work, while your social profile can provide further insight into who you are.

Countless aspects of your experience don't make it into a portfolio. If they did, no one would have the time or patience to go through it all. That's where LinkedIn comes in handy – it's an excellent platform to supplement your portfolio by providing a more comprehensive view of you as a Designer and an individual. After all, employers are looking to hire real people, not just their skills. Whether it's about volunteer work, hobbies, or interests, don't be afraid to show them on your profile.

However, in today's competitive job market, merely listing your work and experience on LinkedIn may not be sufficient to set you apart. To showcase your unique perspective and approach to problem-solving, engaging in conversations about design can be an effective strategy.

Let me lay down some of the most effective ways you can do this:

  1. Join relevant design groups: LinkedIn has numerous professional groups dedicated to various design disciplines. By joining these groups, you can participate in discussions, learn from industry experts, and share your own insights. Being active demonstrates your passion for the subject and helps you stay informed about the latest trends and practices.
  2. Comment on design-related content: When you come across design-related articles, posts, or updates from your network, take the time to leave thoughtful comments that showcase your understanding of the topic. This not only helps you develop relationships with other professionals but also positions you as an informed and engaged individual within the design community.
  3. Ask and Answer questions: Actively seek out questions or discussions related to design and offer your perspective, advice, or expertise. This not only showcases your knowledge but also helps you build a reputation as a helpful and knowledgeable professional.

Forge Connections

While I certainly don't recommend asking strangers for jobs or recommendations without getting to know them first, LinkedIn is undeniably an excellent platform for networking with professionals in the companies you aspire to join. By following and interacting with them, you get a better sense of what they stand for, and the company's culture, as well as be in the loop regarding job openings.

Networking can also lead to mentorship opportunities, provided you are intentional and genuine about your goals and what you hope to achieve from connecting with others.

There's a lot to consider when it comes to reaching out to people on LinkedIn, but here are some best practices in a nutshell:

  1. Be specific about what you want from the connection – Are you seeking more information about a role at the company? Are you looking for a potential mentor or employer?
  2. Consider what's in it for them – Although it might seem daunting, it's essential to think about how the interaction could also benefit the other party.
  3. Avoid generic messages – It's time to delete the default LinkedIn message template and craft something unique and personalized if you want your message to stand out and make a memorable impression.

If reaching out to people is not really your cup of tea, or it takes some time to get used to, I recommend getting familiar with the concept of "inbound marketing". Coined about a decade ago by HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, inbound marketing refers to creating valuable content that attracts people directly to you. The content can be articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, or anything that provides useful information and encourages others to engage in a conversation.

Investing time and energy in content creation can be more effective than resorting to cold calls or endless hours of filling in applications (even thought it does not exclude it). In the context of LinkedIn, our primary targets are recruiters, who often receive countless LinkedIn or Facebook requests and recommendations from unfamiliar individuals. With limited resources, simply sending connection requests and messages might not produce the desired outcomes, unless they are purposeful and specific.

The key to standing out and leaving a lasting impression is to strike a balance between intentionally connecting with people and contributing meaningful, high-quality content that captures the interest of recruiters and potential employers.

Share thoughts

In the design industry, sharing thoughts and ideas is vital not only on social platforms but also in various professional settings. So the more you train this muscle, the better! When we share our insights, we not only help others but also learn from their feedback, ultimately improving our skills. One reason designers may hesitate to share their thoughts is the fear of criticism or a lack of confidence in their abilities. Imposter syndrome is at fault here, especially for Designers with fewer years of experience.

However, sharing our knowledge and ideas benefits both the designer and their audience. It creates a win-win situation that enables designers to hone their craft and engage in meaningful discussions with their peers.

Sharing also has advantages beyond debating design topics with fellow designers. While we may have learned a great deal about practicing our profession in school or bootcamps, communication with non-designers is often overlooked or not thoroughly addressed.

By sharing our thoughts and ideas, we learn to articulate the value of design and the designer's approach in a way that resonates with clients, colleagues, and the general public. You can engage in honest conversations with non-designers about the value of design and your professional identity by asking for their perspectives and addressing their questions. The benefits won't take long to appear.

In a Design world where competition is fierce, it's essential to stand out and make a lasting impression. By leveraging the power of social media and platforms like LinkedIn, designers can build their personal brand, forge connections, and share insights that benefit both themselves and their audiences. Whether you're a seasoned designer or just starting, LinkedIn is a valuable tool that can help you showcase your skills.

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