The process of networking has shifted in new and exciting ways. With the increased uptake of digital events and conferences networking has begun to feel almost unrecognisable to what it was in 2019. The use of digital mediums for connecting with new people, locations and time zones are turning yesterday’s barriers into today’s assets. The dawn of effective international networking is here and building an expanded network has never been more important for a designer.
The design industry has experienced an unprecedented amount of growth and increased flexibility. Many organisations have adopted the benefits of remote work and digital project delivery. This means that designers are no longer competing for new roles based on the city they live in nor are companies working with employees, partners or projects based on their physical locations. The world is becoming an increasingly open playing field, which means that the time to start building and creating a global network is now. This will allow designers to find the best position to suit their goals and skills. An international network also helps to stay up to date with rapidly evolving skill sets in design.
How Networking Creates Value
Networking is fundamentally about building sustainable connections with people, based on mutual respect, and added value. The value of a network is creating relationships that can be relied on when needed. It is important to note that the relationship also needs to be a two-way support system. If there is no mutual respect, there is no real added value.
As a designer, expanding and maintaining a network can be very useful in this new global environment. Especially when the industry and teams within organisations are growing and changing rapidly. This will create opportunities to hire talented people, build partnerships in new markets, and work on projects in different parts of the world. All of this is easier with a network that can provide access to resources, new ideas and different opportunities.
The Benefits of an International Network
The marketplaces of today and the near future are going to be increasingly global. For those who are not thinking about their industry as an interconnected international movement, the time to start expanding their horizons is now.
Thinking about design as a global movement builds strong bridges between countries or cultures and establishes friendships that go beyond just work or projects. There are many platforms for those with a global mindset to try out. For example, ADP List started during the pandemic in 2020 and has been providing mentorship, folio reviews and networking online for designers around the world. This platform and others like it enable designers to operate like global citizens without leaving their home.
Some of the direct benefits of connecting with an international network on a regular basis is receiving information on developments in an overseas industries or sectors of certain markets. Taking part in webinars or other learning sessions to facilitate knowledge sharing can help less developed markets learn best practices. It allows for skills building opportunities and training anywhere in the world. And meeting potential overseas employers or new customers.
Network and Learn
With the growth of online training, many learning providers have built their offerings for an international audience. Most students and trainers alike have a new understanding of the value of a diverse range of participants from different parts of the world. Creating an interconnected ecosystem of global collaboration has shifted the way many businesses and individuals have started valuable relationships. At Echos we are no different. Our courses such as Design Thinking Online and Design Leadership Masterclass provides access to international networking opportunities for all our participants.
The Design Leadership Masterclass course has been designed from the ground up as an international networking course. Conversations that connect people around their shared learning experience happen on a slack channel. Special partnerships with ADP List provide additional spaces for conversation, collaboration, and mentorships.
In addition, after research into the best practices with international networking each masterclass and hands-on training workshop has networking built into them. After running international learning experiences for many years, we understand that true growth happens best through continued connection and conversation with other individuals in the course.
Forge A Potent Network
“Potent networks are not forged through casual interactions but through relatively high-stakes activities that connect you with diverse others.”
— Richard L. Thomas, Kellogg School of Management
The best way to forge a more potent network internationally is to find activities that bind people together behind a larger or higher purpose. This helps to bring people together with the “shared activities” principle: that is, by pursuing certain types of activities which connect a group of diverse people where activities:
- bring together a diverse group of individuals around a common point of interest
- allow for connection through authentic conversation
- provide an opportunity for close working relationships through group goals
A classic example of the shared activities principle is volunteering to serve on the board of a not-for-profit or working on side projects for a social cause. Pursuing an activity passionately and developing a consistent schedule around it creates a strong personal network with the others who are involved.
Designers who find collaboration partners internationally meet others who are high performing, decision-makers and will reach out when business opportunities arise. They can also become information brokers who can make connections with new and untapped networks.
Building an international network is part of the new world of work. The best time to start is now, learn more about our Design Thinking Online or Design Leadership courses. Start designing the career, connections and skills that will open the doors to a new future.
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