All posts tagged networking

Switching careers to UX? Patience is your ally

Anyone who knows me well will tell you: patience is not my strong suit. I’ve learned to hide it reasonably well at the office, but as a general rule I hate waiting.

Back in early 2008, during Alan Cooper’s opening keynote at the first Interaction conference, I suddenly realized that I wanted—desperately—to be an interaction designer. At the time, I had been running my own design firm for almost 10 years, doing print and web design for associations, museums, and NGOs. Print work was becoming commoditized and I really couldn’t see myself doing graphic design into my middle age. When I discovered interaction design, I knew that this was it.

The only trouble was, I knew virtually nothing about the discipline and I had no idea how to get that kind of work.

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What does it mean to be a “team player”?

In addition to possessing “excellent written and oral communication skills,” every job applicant for professional work claims to be a “team player.” Probably because every job description demands that you be a team player.

Depending on who you talk to, however, the term “team player” means nothing—or everything.

There seem to be two ways to interpret the phrase. The popular, naïve definition seen on forums and blogs boils down to, “someone who gets along with others.” Business writers, on the other hand, define “team player” by listing dozens of skills and behaviors—from taking the initiative, to communicating effectively, to being reliable, a good listener, and a hard worker with a positive attitude. Given that definition, how is a team player different from an effective employee?

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Don’t be lazy—write that cover letter

I’m amazed that many people applying for high-paying professional jobs submit only their bare résumé with no accompanying cover letter. Yes, a cover letter is extra work—hello, that’s the point. Herewith, some tough love on why you need to write a great cover letter if you expect to get a great job.

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Three tips that helped me kick ass at the IA Summit

I had ten years of piano lessons when I was a kid and in all that time I went to only two recitals. Both times I strictly forbade my parents from attending (to their relief, I sensed) because I was deathly afraid of performing in public and was convinced that I would buckle under the pressure and make a total mess of my piece.

Needless to say, that pessimistic attitude ensured that I did indeed make an embarrassing mess of it, thus cementing my fear of public performance.

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How to start a peer advisory group

In 2006 I made a coffee date with a designer I met online. We were in the same situation: working by ourselves and feeling cut off from colleagues and peers. Little did I know that was the first step in creating a peer advisory group—one that’s grown and flourished and sustained me through many ups and downs as a business owner.

Three years later, Kathy Kiely (K2 Creative) and I are sharing office space and the Silver Spring Design Lunch has grown to a mailing list of 20 that meets monthly.

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Business cards for the 21st century

Business cards are so 20th century, right? Surely, any self-respecting modern company would have ditched the paper rectangle by now in favor of … well, what, exactly?

The fact is, even the most technology-savvy consultants still carry business cards.

Nothing else creates such an immediate, tactile, memorable impression. Sure, there are ways to beam your contact information from one PDA to another, but by the time you’ve whipped out that Blackberry, navigated to the right program, and found the right button—then waited for me to do the same—we could have exchanged cards AND figured out that we had the same high school English teacher (chain-smoking Mr. Banton!).

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The perils of marketing

Several months ago I decided to sponsor a local technology networking event, to raise awareness of my company and hopefully make some good contacts. Knowing there would be a couple of dozen other sponsors and hundreds of attendees, I printed loud postcards and tried to come up with a clever tchotchke idea—something memorable that people will keep so you’re top of mind later on when they need your services.

marketing postcard

Loud, provocative postcards to get people's attention.

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The grass is greener… or is it?

When I started in graphic design, I was often struck with jealousy that other designers got to do high-profile jobs for brand-name clients with huge budgets and award-winning photography. “Their professional lives must be so much more glamorous and exciting than mine,” I thought as I made the eighth round of changes to a two-color brochure or changed all the percent signs to “percent” in a 200-page report.

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The kudos economy

“Colonel Hatherence leaned over toward Fassin.—This kudos thing, then, she sent. It is really how they calculate their worth? —I’m afraid so.”

In Iain Banks’ sci-fi epic, The Algebraist, the Dwellers—a gas-giant-inhabiting species who live billions of years—trade on a concept called “kudos.” Not money, exactly, but something more akin to reputation points or “coolness.” Kudos are accrued by associating with or doing favors for other Dwellers who have lots of kudos. On the other hand, as one character points out, the harder you work for your kudos, the less they’re worth.

In the world of social networking, kudos is the new currency.

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From snore to score—7 tips for waking up your slide presentations

About a year ago, I attended a usability conference with three hundred other interactivity professionals ranging from information architects to graphic designers to programmers. So many bright minds devoting their careers to making websites more user-friendly and intuitive, yet none of them ever thought to question the stultifying monotony of their slide presentations! I was shocked. So, like any good field researcher, I started taking notes and came up with 7 tips for user-centered slide presentations:

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