Saturday, October 30, 2010

World Wide Tech Day

I just finished my presentation for World Wide Tech Day 2010. I did The Modern Resume, and I think it went well. My timing was OK, finishing right at the 0:55 mark. The presentation is really more of a 75 minute one, but I ran a little quick over Livemeeting, without many questions and without the visual feedback, it’s easy to go a bit quicker.

They had asked me to do this in August, and I agreed, saving this day, and here it was.

Now I need another beer to relax the throat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vote for me at the SQL Rally

I submitted a pre-conference seminary proposal along with Chris Shaw to the SQL Rally event that is taking place in May of 2011. Our proposal is a half day pre-con, likely costing around $50-70, in which we'll talk about how you can find your dream job.

You can vote for me here:

The process is interesting in that a committee reviewed the proposals and then the ones approved were put out to the community for a vote. We don't get the results in real time, and I'm still semi-suspicious that PASS might not override the community vote, but I think this is a good chance for people to influence what they'll see.

The Professional Development sessions are located here, and there are some great ones. Kevin Kline and Joe Webb both are friends and both would present great sessions. You can't go wrong voting for any of the three. Whatever your feelings, please vote:

Our abstract:
 The job market is becoming more and more competitive all the time as employees become more and more efficient at accomplishing more work and employers look to reduce their headcounts. This session will present the attendee with practical tips, tricks, and skills for enhancing their marketability. They will learn how to better use networking to their advantage, both online and offline, develop a technical blog, and build a better resume. Once someone has an interview, we provide them with techniques to prepare for the interview, and how to not only impress the potential employer, but also assess if this is the job they really desire.
Take Home Skills:
  1. A technical blog not only shows your expertise but your dedication to your trade. Come out of this session learning what works well with a blog and how to leverage it in the job search.
  2. Does anyone hire without researching a candidate online? Learn how to use the internet to your advantage.
  3. Come away with a method you can use to see how well you and an opportunity match up.
  4. Spend time learning the do's and don'ts of a resume. Bring your resume along with you for an opportunity to have it reviewed.
  5. Interviews are the decision point in most employment decisions. Make sure you are not making one of the common mistakes that will eliminate you from the running.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Career Warfare - Book Review

70618861[1] I picked up Career Warfare on the recommendation of a friend that had seen the Modern Resume presentation. I grabbed it as an e-book and have been reading it for the last few months, at a fairly slow pace (for me).

I often read a book in a week, but in the case of this one, I would read part of a chapter, and spend a day or so thinking about it. Digesting the information, and seeing how it might be applicable to my career, and my brand.

The author, David D’Alessandro rose to CEO of John Hancock Insurance, and you have to keep that in mind. The book is written as a tool for how you might advance your career in corporate America, and it includes lessons for upper management, many of which don’t apply to most of us. Items like dealing with the press aren’t something the average person needs to think about.

However there is some great advice in there about how you should grow your career, and the impact that you have on your career based on your actions.

I highly recommend it, and there are a couple of great pieces of advice in there. Most importantly, you are always building your brand. Slowly, surely, but every day you go to work, or interact with people professionally, you are building your brand. I like that he stresses honesty and integrity as well.

There are some things I don’t necessarily agree with, like not bringing your spouse to social events, or not drinking at all, but if you are attempting to rise to the C-level ranks, perhaps that’s good advice.

Who’s in your A Network

I was talking networking with a friend recently and we were talking about how useful networking can be, how to maintain it, and how to use it to your advantage. All good topics, but topics for another day.

One of the topics that we mentioned was how you classify the people in your network. After some debate, we came up with the A, B, C classification for different groups. I’ll talk about the A Network in this post, and reserve the B and C groups for another post.

The A Network

The people that are closest to you, your “best friends”, the people that you can almost certainly count on for some professional help, these are the people in your “A” network.

Typically this is a small group that you start your networking with, likely informally. The people you work with, or used to work with, and would almost certainly do any of the following:

  • Answer a phone call from
  • Accept a meeting
  • Ask to help you find a job
  • Ask for a reference
  • Meet socially
  • Agree to work with again
  • Have regular contact with

It’s not definite that all of these are true, but they’re very likely. These are the closest, most trustworthy, most valued people you know in your career. It’s possible that you have a great mentor, or boss or subordinate that you don’t want to know socially or work with again, but they would have to be someone you know well and trust with your career.

How large can this group be? I would think that your A network is in the 2-15 person range. Maybe slightly larger, but typically you can’t maintain tight relationships or networking with people over time. I would guess for most people, the A network is less than 10 people.

My A network is really composed of probably 6 or 7 people. These are the people I ask for references, that I can count on helping me if I need help or advice, and that I trust. Not that I don’t trust people in my B network, but I’m just not as tight with them.

Who’s in your A network? It might be worth making a list here, and making sure you continue to nurture these relationships over time. And if they’re really in your A network, you won’t mind doing that.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Speaking Ideas - Plan to End

Over the years I’ve seen probably hundreds of technical presentations. I’ve seen good ones, bad ones, on all sorts of topics, many of which I didn’t completely understand. However a good speaker still leads me down the path of allowing me to connect the dots, or enjoy the talk, even if I don’t know exactly what he or she is discussing.

One issue that I often encounter, however, is that speakers tend to run up until time is out and don’t leave time for questions, or not enough time. I’ll see the next speaker coming in and waiting, and unsure of how to interrupt. Speakers get rushed, and they try to slip a lot of content in the last 5-10 minutes.

A suggestion that I have is that as a speaker, plan for 45-50 minutes of content for an hour presentation. I think the worry for most speakers is that people are expecting an hour of content and so you have to deliver an hour.

That’s not necessarily true. I know some people might be disappointed in 30 minutes of material, but if you end at 45 minutes and allow 15 minutes for questions, they’ll be satisfied. They’ll learn something, they can ask questions, and if there are no questions, they can go have a few minutes to relax, check email, or network with others before the next session.

Plan to end early. If you have too much material, look to cut things out, or build  a second, more advanced presentation that can follow on from this one.