Binder full of Parties – The Build Conference

Do you think of the stereotype of a geek that doesn’t get invited to parties? Oh well, the most geekiest conference gives us a binder full of parties. I like to think I’m a veteran at attending Microsoft conferences but I’m being surprised by the jewel of the Microsoft development World- the Build Conference. I’m going to Seattle in 2 days and I have my binder full… of parties!

I tried to attend the Microsoft Build conference in 2011 and it was a lesson to learn. When the conference was announced, I submited my request to my manager and I waited for approval from manager after manager. It took several weeks. I was so proud and happy but it wasn’t for long. I was on the Build waiting list. I thought a waiting list is good, there is a chance. There was never a chance. Don’t believe a waiting list when it’s about Build.

This year I didn’t take any chances. I waited for the first sign of the Build conference- it was a message on Facebook with the date the registration will open. I didn’t wait for approval. On that date at 8AM I was on the website refreshing the page.

If I tell you Microsoft makes no advertisement, gives no details, puts a one form website and asks for $1,500 from the first 500 people and $2,000 from the rest and the conference is sold out in 40 minutes, would you believe me? There is more to it- you had to be very fast and persistent to escape the website errors and pay on time to secure your spot. So many people were registering at the same time, the website was erroring out constantly. I managed to get the early bird discount- and that’s early- it was sold out in 2 minutes! I was fast and furious and I learned from the previous year’s fiasco.

Do you know what amazes me? There is no session catalog yet. If you go to the website right now- you will see minimum information. And this was actually updated 2 days ago. You learn to be thankful if you know the address.

Let’s talk now about the parties. I won’t lie to you – I’m a reasonably looking woman and I actually get invited to a lot of parties for the sake of balance- the geeky crowd is mostly male. But this time I couldn’t rely just on my charm. Oh boy, I had to click fast and dig at twitter feeds.

Thanks to a friend of mine from TechEd I got to register at the Deep Fried Bytes BUILD Party at Lucky Strike.

For every hit you have a miss… I missed to register for the Build Blogger Bash Party. I still don’t know even the link for it. Ironically I’m writing in my blog about it.

There was an invitation for the Windows Phone Dinner Party sent to all the Build registrants. I was too slow and I felt very much uninvited. It’s these precious 2 minutes you have after the email hits your inbox. Blink and you are too late.

I really applaud DevExpress for posting their party on Twitter #bldwin. I’m going to DXTREME Party at //Build/ 2012 @ K1 Speed.

I managed to register for the Hackathon! It’s miracle in itself. It was the 2 minute rule.

I get to go to a dinner cruise because I’m extremely lucky.

There is the Build conference official party which is sold out too but at least every attendee gets to go.

I’m sure there are many more parties that I don’t have in my binder.

I miss something big from the Microsoft TechEd Conference. I’m a proud member of theKrewe. At TechEd we have an amazing leader Michael Bender who organized a support structure around the conference party system. #TheKrewe is an open group of people that makes you feel part of the conference networking system (the parties). TheKrewe keeps you updated on parties and you never have to feel alone.

The bottom line here is… I’m packing for Seattle. I have a binder full of parties and I think most of the Build attendees do too. I guess only the organizers at this point have a binder full of sessions.

Build Your Online Brand Using The Social Network

It’s another Universe out there and you are part of it. I don’t need to use a Quantum physics theory to prove it- there is a Parallel Universe that you live in. It’s the Web and the Social Network. Your online life is measurable and traceable. Every step, every relationship and interaction of your online life is searchable. And I don’t need an FBI warrant for that.

Take the first step and Google (or Bing) your name. That’s exactly what your potential employer, HR department, potential husband or wife will do. In the case of the employer you want your name to return many entries that prove your competency. In case of your lover, husband or wife you want the search to return no love experience- a complete enigma. I never dated before, honey, you are my first and only one.

I will not expand on the personal aspect of your online presence. I believe every one of you heard about the soap opera in the news ‘Desperate Generals’. Even the CIA director couldn’t hide it. Any move you make online can be used against you. There is not much of a personal email or conversation you can have online.

Facebook is not your personal space either. It’s no place for drunken photos. It’s true that you choose your friends on Facebook but your status and photos can be shared from a friend to a friend of your friend. The privacy settings of Facebook change faster than George Clooney’s girlfriends. Even if you master the current privacy settings, they can be changed in the future. Before posting anything ask yourself if somebody can use it against you.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the social network sites can be your stage though. Own the stage! Don’t shy away from it, embrace it, build your own brand.

There are many employers who look at your online presence. If you apply for a sales position at Fry’s Electronics, you need to have at least 25 followers on Twitter. More and more jobs look at your influence online. There are websites that measure that. Klout.com gives you a number of your online presence. Sign up for free at klout.com and check your K number.

Surround yourself with the right crowd. Your friends and followers online speak loudly about your interests and how you spend your time online. If you are in technology- show that you are deep into technology by having hundreds of professional developers and IT people as connections on LinkedIn, followers on Twitter and influencers on Klout.

Use Twitter. Post 140 character messages on Twitter and reach the World. Twitter is your platform to reach people from everywhere. Be smart and funny and people will retweet your messages. You can be an overnight star and to improve your influence by the thousands. Twitter is open and anybody can read your messages. If you are an expert in some field- post every article you have read- people will follow you to learn more about the news in your field. You can have an overnight success but for most of us it takes time to build our follower base on Twitter. Start as soon as possible and appreciate every follower.

You can give yourself authority online by creating a blog. Write articles about the things you care and know. I want to be seen as an expert in Microsoft technologies so I write a blog about Windows 8 and other technologies. Starting a blog is not expensive or hard. The days are over when you needed a web designer in order to have a website. Go to wordpress.com and start your blog.

Sharing your knowledge has many benefits. You help people and you build your online brand. Answer questions on online forums and link back to your blog. This builds your name as an expert in the field.

Showcase your resume on LinkedIn. From all the social networks, LinkedIn is probably the one that brings the most value for me personally. Post your resume on LinkedIn. Connect and keep in touch with the people you work- it’s your showcase. It takes time to get recommendations but on LinkedIn they stay with you. Ask your boss, co-workers or employees to recommend you. Build your endorsements. We all know our work situation is temporary and every one of us can be laid off without notice. Be prepared because it takes more time than your savings can afford.

Associate yourself with the right network. Sign up for online groups. LinkedIn has a lot of choices.

Everybody can be a leader! Create a professional group online. LinkedIn and MeetUp.com are a great place to start a group and they provide you with the tools.

One last note- if it’s not part of your responsibility at work, don’t use your corporate network or your paid time to work on your online brand. Every keystroke can be traced and every minute of your time can be accounted for.

It sounds like a lot of efforts and time but it’s important you to think about it and plan your online life. None of us have time for every social network site. Choose wisely. Start step by step but keep the big picture on your mind. Your career may need it in the future and even a high online influence, it does however need no missteps. Stay safe and be popular! Build your online brand the way you want your employer or clients to see it.