Getting into speaking, presenting, and possibly making a career change?

I am asked often…..

  • How can I get into presenting?
  • How do I get into external consulting?
  • How can I do something similar to what you do?

It’s a challenge to work for yourself…

  • There are periods of feast and periods of famine
  • There are [way too many] times when the only person you can blame is yourself ;)
  • You need to do current work, work on getting future work and do the admin for past work (billing/receivables/paying subcontractors)
  • No one pays you when you are sick or when you want to vacation or when you just want to veg… and you really need to schedule all of that way in advance (which is challenging)

BUT – it’s also very rewarding…

  • If you plan ahead – you can take time for yourself and you don’t have to deal with a corporate limitation in vacation days
  • If the work is light you can take the morning to mess about and blog ;)
  • You feel really good when things go well

So…what’s my point?

If you’ve been thinking that you’d like to expand your horizons and possibly get out and do something on your own, I’d *really* suggest NOT doing it without planning ahead. First, you should plan to have some cash reserves (the first 6-12 months are the hardest as you’ll have a lot of setup costs (hardware, network, accounting and legal fees, etc.) AND it might take time to get customers and even more time to get paid). Second, you should already know from where your business will come. What I mean by this one is that you should start trying to figure out who might hire you before you take the leap. I’m not suggesting that you try to steal customers…not at all. You just want to think a lot about where you will get business before you have 0 income. And – that really leads me to the reason for this post. One of the best ways to get business is to be desirable. In this industry that means many things:

(1) Get really good with a technology that you like… which #2 will help you know if you are good or not AND whether or not you really do like it.

(2) Make a name for yourself – create a blog, write magazine articles, post on other people’s blogs, answer newsgroup postings…start to learn more but also get more involved. Do a bit of research before posting and even test and/or create sample code. And present at conferences – this is a bit challenging BUT it can be done. Some conferences are community based (like SQLPASS) and they look for new and exciting presentations from the field… Others expect a lot more prior history and sometimes have a smaller number of speakers in general BUT, TechEd ITForum (week of Nov 13 in Barcelona) is doing something that’s pretty interesting called “Speaker Idol” and this might be the break you need?

OK, so Speaker Idol is really the reason for why I’ve posted this blog entry. I wasn’t really sure what the heck it was when I first bumped into it (accidentally actually – after someone asked me to verify something totally unrelated). Anyway, it’s a competition for attendees of TechEd ITForum to submit a presentation that will be voted on as “best presentation” and the winner will get free attendance to next year’s TechEd ITForum (and a VERY cool item to put on your blog, resume, etc.).

(3) Research the whole process of starting a business in your neck of the woods A LOT more before you actually do it!!! I truly wish you well if you do!

So, check out TechEd ITForum’s Speaker Idol and have fun! It’s certainly an interesting way to jump start the process if you’ve been thinking about this but just hadn’t made the leap. GOOD LUCK!


3 thoughts on “Getting into speaking, presenting, and possibly making a career change?

  1. Great stuff, Kimberly! Thanks a lot for sharing!

    I noticed that you guys are doing presentation in the great China region. I’d love to be able to do that. Chinese is my native language and it would be nice to go to those cool places…

    Now, on to more learning, testing, and writting…

  2. Interesting post, Kimberly. I’ve been an independent consultant for just over a year now, and it has been a great ride so far. Definitely lots of famine mixed in with lots of feast, and I still haven’t figured out a good system for invoicing my clients as often as I should. And you’re quite correct about preparing ahead of time. I had very little income for the first three months because I didn’t prepare enough work upfront, my initial clients were very slow to pay, and I had to spend money on incorporation, insurance, etc, etc.

    But all in all it’s been a great move, and one I highly recommend to anyone who has prepared enough and is ready to make the leap of faith!

  3. Hi Kimberly

    I attended your SQL 2005 Tips And Tricks to Tuning for High Performance seminar in Johannesburg today.

    I can honestly say it was the best such event I’ve ever attended in terms of content and presentation. I’ve been using SQL server for a few years now but mostly for very very small databases, which meant that I’ve never spent enough time to figure out the intricasies of indexes and performance. However, I’m currently working on a project where I am running into more complex performance issues for the first time, and your presentation really addressed a lot of the issues I’m facing. I’ll start going through the webcasts over the weekend.

    Thank you


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