I was recently catching up with a friend who teaches at a local university. I jealously listened as he told me about a project his school was funding that afforded him the opportunity to travel to Capetown, Bruges and Sao Paulo to meet with other professors and examine why those cities were successfully building infrastructure while other urban areas were failing. My corporate alter ego kicked in as I contemplated what the ROI would be for the university to fund such an expensive series of trips and I asked him what deliverables would be expected from him and his colleagues. Without skipping a beat, the first thing he said was “networking”. There were other expectations to be sure, but the building of relationships with his peers was the number one benefit the prestigious academic institution he works for had calculated as the prime reason to underwrite his travels.
This story is my rather long-winded way to convince you to join industry organizations and attend local events and national conferences, not just for the information you’ll gain from the seminars, but for the powerful business and personal relationships you’ll form with your peers. Every contributor to this blog is a colleague I had the privilege of meeting at various in-house and design gatherings. The inspiration, information and support I get from them and others like them enriches my professional life. Long after the last bullet points from the presentations I attended at a conference have faded, the bonds I forged with great designers I met remain. Innies are probably the most isolated of the communities in the design profession; all the more reason to get out and make it personal.
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