While the idea of belonging to a networking group isn’t anything new, UX designers are increasingly turning to specialized communities to help move their field forward in important and critical ways.

Shifting from networking to nurturing relationships

Networking is increasingly seen as “old school” and overly transactional. For many UX designer communities, the goal is instead to develop and nurture professional relationships that will provide help, inspiration, and guidance with the field at large. Today that community can be virtual or in-person, depending on your preference. 

To find the right group for you, think of the areas you are passionate about in your work. What’s your specific area of focus or expertise? What fascinates you about the UX discipline? Where do you see the field heading in the years to come? Use these questions to help guide you towards a group that shares your interests and values.

In-person gatherings

One of the most well-known meet-ups is IxDA NYC, which is dedicated to the idea of mentorship and relationship-building between established design leaders and UX newcomers. The end goal of IxDA is to better prepare every designer to produce high-quality work and take on leadership roles within the industry.

Another East Coast option is the Boston Chapter of the User Experience Professional’s Association (UXPA). They provide monthly meetings, an annual conference, and weekend workshops that give members a forum to share their experiences and knowledge.

The UXPA 19th Annual User Experience Conference is being held in Boston on May 29th.

On the West Coast, UX designers can explore the latest at the annual In/Visible Talks in San Francisco or ConveyUX in Seattle, a research and design conference.

Another choice are Sarah Bloomer’s symposiums. The veteran UX designer, consultant, and coach offers UX Leaders Get Together Luncheons to discuss topics like Team Optimization and UX Strategies.

Online meet-ups

Maybe you can’t get away to an in-person symposium or can’t find a group near you. There are multiple virtual ways for you to create a UX designer community without leaving home.

Designer Hangout is an invite-only, professional UX design network. Its more than 18,000 members use the space to discuss trends, discover opportunities, and even arrange in-person meetups. There are also groups for UX designers on LinkedIn and numerous Slack groups, such as Mixed Methods, which focuses on research. Other opportunities include micro-communities on Facebook like Sarah Doody’s The UX Portfolios & Careers Group

There’s never been a better time to join a UX design community. Learning alongside other designers not only sharpens your skills but also moves the discipline forward as a whole for everyone.