If there’s one thing I’m short of right now it’s time. So taking stock of things over the last few weeks and I decided that Open Coffee Coleraine is one of those things that should be left off my to do list.Now if anyone wants to take it over, please feel free and go ahead. There’s a Twitter feed and a little Facebook group that you can have as well. Organising these events isn’t difficult, just phone up a coffee shop, set a date and then publicise.It didn’t do me any harm…… I got noticed, got a startup, got employed. So it does work.You could say that me not having enough time is a success story.
Wednesday night was Open Coffee in Coleraine. Though I’m now asked many times why I need it now there’s a steady stream of work, I still get a buzz from seeing the good things that businesses are doing.Better still was I got some good feedback on my own product and my thoughts were aligning quite nicely with what was going through my head as well. Feedback though leads to new ideas and sometimes you just have to stop yourself doing anymore development before you go to launch.The main thing is to put your product in front of potential customers and not developers, they are breeds apart sometimes. I’m not say that all developer feedback is useless, far from it, but you need to get to the people who are going to use your thing/thang/doofer/doobrie on a daily basis.The one feature I was toying with is a firm requirement so it got put into the main system this morning. And the product went from being excellent to being a game changer. Me, for one, I am a happy man.So to recap:
- Get to open coffee or any other networking event. Networking face to face is where your potential customers are.
- You can explain things is more than sentences of 140 characters. 🙂
- Seek out who you want to demo to, be picky with your potentials. Are they a short term, mid term or long term proposition?
- If the product is work in progress say so but also have a firm roadmap in your head of when you are ready to launch. Also mention the future roadmap, it shows commitment to your potential customer and the product you own.
- Open Coffee is usually a relaxed place, so you can relax too.
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I think it’s fair to say, in reflection, that 2009 was basically spent trying to find my centre of gravity. Towards November I was starting to sound like a bit of a personal pity party so something had to change. Thanks to my network, finding out the technology landscape and talking to good people I could put myself in the right place at the right time.There were a few things that happened that did help it along.Open Coffee and other network meetings do workYou can’t beat face to face networking. There was a time when I didn’t have to do this, the work was streaming in during the boom times. Skills are plentiful and it’s a case of being able to sell yourself. From Open Coffee I’ve managed to show my face once at XCake as well. On the online side I keep up with Digital Circle and the usual stream of info on Twitter.SpeakingI don’t think it does anyone any harm to publicly speak once in a while. I loved doing Barcamp Derry last October. Prospective customers, investors, employers and collaborators can instantly see what you are like and what drives you. From the Barcamp experience I would really like to do some more speaking in 2010.You’re friendsConsidering that I moved to Northern Ireland in 2004 it’s taken a good five years to find my networking feet. There’s a couple of factors in that, partially to do with the existence of technology like Twitter. I always had a LinkedIn account but I did my searches by sector, not location.Through the likes of Open Coffee I’ve met some great people. Even better that most have them have become good friends and are on speed dial if I really need them. The help, advice and provision that these people are willing to give is also available to you, all you have to do is to make yourself available and willing to show your face.WriteI have an “articles” section on this site. These aren’t articles that I just wrote for the fun of it, they are important networking tools to prove your knowledge. The likes of Java Developer’s Journal, IBM developerWorks and the Belfast Telegraph have given me the opening to write articles on a wide range of technology subjects over the last nine years.So, to summarise, with this mix of activities I’m just starting to shape and form what 2010 is going to look like, I’m really excited for 2010. There’s some big things to happen.
A quick reality check, the job situation is crap out there. Regardless of the all the headlines stating the recession is over, it’s crap out there. West of the Bann, it’s really bad with Derry, Limavady and Strabane chalking up the higher end of the unemployment figures. Also, reality check number two is that Project Kelvin will not create the jobs that people will expect.