Conference Speaking - You Can Too!
With my new-ish gig as an Evangelist, I am on the conference circuit. The good and bad for me is that I am still pretty green into the conference circuits. I would advise anyone to go and attend and if possible speak at conferences. Building your network and learning from others is invaluable; we can’t better our craft alone, your story is important!
You Speak too much, go on Stage…
I really do like to talk. For those who know me, I can spend two hours at lunch not chewing my food and just talking. Since my early internship days at IBM through today, feedback is I like to talk. I was not meant for a software lab so with good mentors at IBM got me to a client facing role and eventually I made my way to sales and now marketing roles at other firms. I have the benefit of remembering how I got into more public speaking. The road was a gradual one.
My Wondering Path
For the majority of my career, I had a client facing role. The presentations I started with were internal to clients and I would present to stakeholders and team members. As I moved into solution architecture, I interacted with more than one client and supported several in an architecture context and eventually interacting with several dozen in a sales context and now hundreds in a marketing context. The evolution was having less context about a specific client to more generic impacting several clients to being even more abstract speaking to industry and technology in general. When I was at Red Hat, I really wanted to become a Principal Architect.
Principal = Presenting Architect
At Red Hat, comparing moving from Architect / Senior Architect / Principal Architect, a large factor was community and industry impact. I had no idea starting off in my first pre-sales role much less covering a wide set of JBoss products how on earth I would have a community impact. I was so focused on sales activities at Red Hat, I did not have much of a chance or ability to focus on building my brand. The good though I was introduced to the more Principal and Chief Architects at the time, many whom I keep in touch with today. I went to my first industry events with Red Hat, attending several AJUG Meetups and attending my first DevNexus and Red Hat Summit. I spent my time at Red Hat doing very Red Hat centric activities in the field. I eventually changed gigs to go to a DevSecOps startup, Sonatype, as a Principal Sales Engineer.
My First AJUG Presentation
My first year at Sonatype I was exposed to several DevOps Days at Sonatype. I still give a special shout out to the DevOps Days Community to be very accepting and allowing me to grow my craft and community. Though during my first year at Sonatype I got my very first earned presentation at a AJUG Meetup in Oct 2016, “Not all JARs are Created Equally”. This was very exciting. I could not believe AJUG would allow me to speak at their MeetUp. Usually there are some heavy hitters in the JAVA Community which I felt I was never good enough for (my imposter syndrome post). Finally my coming to be with a community I thought I was not good enough for. I certainly practiced several times and thankfully AJUG recorded me. After that, I really got the presenting bug. Enjoyed educating the masses around technology trends and topics. Fast forward to today, I have some learnings to share.
I had one more stint at Mesosphere as a Principal Sales Engineer before my current Evangelist role at AppDynamics. I gave a quick talk about burritos vs cloud native apps and the rest was history. After spending several months in my current role, below are some tips I find helpful making a bigger splash.
Start by learning from others. We all had to start from somewhere. Take a look at the last section of this post where I found some of my inspiration.
A lot like sales, study your prospects or in this case conferences. Take a look at types of talks and presentations given before.
Can start small, a local MeetUp in your interest area can go a far way.
Your brand is your brand! I really like food and flamingos. I try to find a way to weave them in my talks. The blog picture is from JS Conf where I talked about FlamingoJS.
Keep your head up, there could be a lot of submissions you fire off before one gets accepted.
Use tools like PaperCall to see who is looking for Call for Papers [CFPs] and submit.
Never forget that your voice is important. Your sum total of your experience from others and folks will be always curious to learn and grow!