Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Recap: IEEE CNSV Meeting

Good stuff at the IEEE Consultants Network of Silicon Valley meeting tonight.  I've been meaning to attend a CNSV meeting for at least a year; the stars finally aligned for this evening.  From what I'm told, attendance was way up compared to 2008's meetings--mainly attributable to the economy, I'm guessing.  That said, tonight's topic seemed to be of pretty broad interest to the ~100 or so folks in attendance, so I'm sure that made an impact, too.

Tonight was the third in a series of "Consultants Forum" sessions; this evening's meeting focused on four different approaches to marketing, addressed by Brian BergSean MurphyAhmet Alpdemir, and Peter Salmon.  As a guy who's spent 20 years in the marketing and selling of technical solutions, I was a little bit surprised at some of the seemingly basic (to me) questions that came from the audience.  But, I know how out of my league I am at engineering presentations where much of the audience would've been right at home; putting the shoe on the other foot, I readily understood where a lot of the questions were coming from.  I'm the one asking (or not asking, due to embarrassment) the really basic questions at a lot of technical sessions, so I absolutely felt empathy with the extremely bright engineers posing the queries.

Brian focused on the importance of:
  • a well-linked website
  • involvement in relevant professional organizations
  • public speaking
Sean talked about:
  • being involved in relevant professional communities
  • the importance of consulting being a two-way street--help others as you wished to be helped
  • Bootstrapper's Breakfasts and other professional networks
Ahmet covered social networking by sharing:
  • statistics on social networking sites, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace
  • do's and do not's for what to do in LinkedIn
  • how to expand your professional network on LinkedIn, as well as suggestions for setting up your own network on a site like Ning
Peter discussed:
  • his authorship of articles and white papers as marketing tools
  • recommendations on negotiating publication agreements with editors
  • how writing an article led directly to business
Each approach resonated on a different level with each audience member, leading to an in-depth Q&A session at the end of the presentation.  Slides can be found here; whether you're a newbie consultant looking for ideas on how to market yourself, or whether you've been at this for decades, I'd encourage you to have a glance at the presentations.  As I noted, I've been marketing technical solutions for two decades, and I still found nuggets of wisdom from each speaker.

If you're a technical consultant in Silicon Valley, or in one of the other ~30 geographies where IEEE consultants' sections can be found, I'd encourage you to investigate your local chapter.  Tonight's meeting was very informative, as well as being a great opportunity to expand your personal network.  I met a number of folks whose cards I requested, to file away in the virtual Rolodex for when a project comes up requiring unique expertise.

I look forward to next month's meeting.  One final tidbit--I have no idea about the policies of other IEEE consultants' sections, but the IEEE CNSV meetings are free, and don't require IEEE membership to attend.  So, show up at one soon--and tell 'em Coop sent you!

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