Sharing my tips and experiences attending tech/startup events around London
My work, as a developer evangelist (https://www.twitter.com/orliesaurus) for Mailjet, started early on last September, back from a one month holiday, tanned, relaxed and happy I was ready to start my adventure! I am writing a summary of what I have experienced so far and a few tips for those who want to make it, out by the end of the month, still alive and kicking!
It began, initially moderately, with only half a week of conferences and workshops and slowly, bit by bit, loads of things to do all the time, every single day! What did I learn from going to a lot of events and meeting tons of new people?
#Point number one: Planning, be tidy or be late.
As an evangelist your role is to represent your company at pretty much all the events that you can attend during a week of work. You should not struggle or you might be negatively impacting your brand's image! Being on time means being reliable, this is important as your behaviour reflects the service provided by your company. You are the flag carrier of your team, if you ever played Capture the Flag, you know that your team-mates got your back but you're leading the way by carrying a reputation flag forward for your whole business. So please take those extra 10 minutes to make sure and plan ahead travel routes, starting and ending times. Trust me and this will make a lot of sense to you if you're running around all day: Try not to forget to include extra time to refresh, mentally and physically. Your goal should be to always look ready to take a bite out of the competition's market!
#Point number two: Make sure that you know what you are talking about and then a bit more
Representing your brand is not simply walking around and handing business cards to events, you should be seen as a point of reference, you need to be known for being THE guy. It is crucial to know when to be wearing different hats: Marketing guy, Sales guy, Dev guy, UX designer guy. (Or girl). You are expected to be able to help people, online and offline AT LEAST with the things that are related to your company's savoir-faire. Imagine showing up to a hackathon and the following happens: ...Yeah..that one function that allows you to get that info…yeah..“. You are aiming to be as precise and concise as possible, having a clear flow and making sure you know what you're talking about helps a lot; afterall you are representing your company to the outside world. When you face a challenge you should make sure that the subject is part of your domain of expertise, and that you have covered that area at least once previously. I am not just talking about technical details, features and api methods, because sometimes even the easy questions can put you in a difficult spot. ...Our competitors uhmm yeah its like euhm these guy whose company name start with X; sorry I forgot hahah..“ <- This is kind of awkward right?
#Point number three: It's not always about attending, but creating relationships.
What is the point of being in a dozen different places if you are not able to make a positive impact for your brand? It is important to network, that however is not accomplished by walking around with a banner, or a branded tshirt; it just won't cut it! Oh yeah, unless you got something flashy going on! (TRON neon suit recommended, by the way). A fairly simple trick is to know exactly what the agenda for an event will look like: This way you can prioritise certain activities over others. Personally I love workshops, I would take workshops over presentations 8 times out of 10. Why? Because they're usually more practical and they engage more, they allow you to meet people over just listening (which usually means browsing on your smartphone, laptop or tablet).
#BONUS point: Think fast - move faster
It occurred a few times that I would arrive to a venue and, as I enter the main room, everyone is just sitting in a corner and staring at their iPad waiting for things to happen. That is when a person like you and myself should start being pro-active. Get to know people from the start, have a few ice-breakers ready. Here's a few that always work: ...Hey what's the WiFI password here“ (always works) to ...Hello there, I am ABC and I do XYZ, is it your first time here at 123Conf?“ React positively to people challenging you, if when you meet people say that they're not interested in what you have to say because they are already with your competition, take the time to understand what is it that they think the competitors do better than you. A lot of times you will see people that say ...Oh yes I heard of your company but we use Competitor1“. That's where you can gather a lot of precious info to use at your advantage. ...Don't worry I am not here to sell you my product, however I am now curious in knowing what it is that you think we've missed out on, because clearly you have heard of our product so does that mean you have considered it at some point!“. Always have a business card ready to give out and make sure you take a business card, read it and ask question about what they do. A lot of times it works wonders to remind people about who you are what you do. ...Oh wow, where did you get these printed they're astonishingly well manufactured“ or "What do you do in your day to day job?"
In conclusion, there is a lot of work involved because the city is huge, there are way too many events that you could attend so make sure you schedule everything in your agenda, tablet, phone (and keep them in synch!) to allow a smooth ride. You are representing the face of your company, you are a on the field champion and you are carrying the reputation flag of your business. That means that when people look at you they will be interacting with your company, its vision and mission. Carry business cards and anything that might remind people of you, you are thriving to always make a positive impact! Always be prepared to answer questions, there will be a lot, both technical and business oriented. If you really don't know the answer rather than making an answer up, say you’ll get back to them (exchange business cards!): It is better to be humble and get back with an answer at a later stage, than lying and make a fool out of yourself once the truth comes up! The truth always comes up sooner or later. (Suspense kicks in). Put a smile on your face and don't overwhelm yourself with work, it will affect your personal life and performance, we are all humans after all.
Header Photo by Betsy Weber used under CC License
[ Posted Fri, 11 Oct 2013 11:47:00 ]