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One of the most influential experiences in my career was attending QCon in New York back in 2012. That’s when I came across two new subjects that would change my career:
Without marketing, I would never have had those transformative experiences. Professionals from all over North America took time out of their schedule to attend QCon to share their experience with others. Sure, there’s an upside for presenters – an inspirational talk is a powerful business development tool – but the upside is mutual.
Understanding how marketing affects your company, your opportunities, and the success of future clients is critical. Are you willing to invest in open source software, not only releasing code but also sharing your knowledge and experience?
Marketing is not advertising. Marketing done right should give back to the community more than it takes from the community. The delta between give and take is part of the contribution that your company makes to open source software.
How can you get involved in marketing yourself?
Before joining Lightbend I had never delivered even a single Meetup talk. It took me years of practice before becoming comfortable in front of a large audience. If you’re serious about developing your public speaking skills, start presenting at local Meetups. Sharing your experience is one of the best forms of grassroots marketing out there.
Don’t forget to ask people for feedback after every single talk. Sometimes it’s amazing at how different your own opinion of your talk compared to how others experienced it. My very first conference talk was at GeeCON in Prague, and afterwards I asked Konrad Malawski of Akka fame for feedback. He shared the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I incorporated his advice into all of my future talks. If you’re not willing to be humbled you’ll never develop a connection with your audience, which defeats the entire purpose of speaking; after all, do you speak for yourself, or for others?